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Top eight target as Shujaa kick off season

Shujaa players celebrate after winning the Africa 7s title and qualifying for the Olympics in Johannesburg on November 9, 2019. PHOTO/Rugby Afrique

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The 2019/2020 season of the World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off with the Dubai Sevens on Thursday and Shujaa Technical Director Paul Feeney has laid a season marker for a top eight finish for his charges.

Feeney believes that the team is ready for the new campaign with fresh mentality and renewed strength and determination with the playing structures now better and most of the senior players returning to the fold.

“We will show consistency in every game we play and try to take a majority of the big teams to the wire. We have a team which knows it can beat anyone any day. We have experience and depth in the team and we have the Olympics to look forward to,” Feeney stated.

“We have no reason not to make the top eight and maybe make a Main Cup semi or even a final in the season. If we don’t achieve a top eight, we would have underperformed in my eyes,” further stated the tactician.

Shujaa endured a torrid campaign last season, just merely surviving the relegation axe by a shoe string after finishing 13th.

This season though, Feeney believes all is set up for a good performance from the boys he has selected to do duty for the national team.

Kenya head coach Paul Feeney talking to Morans captain Jeff Oluoch and Johnstone Olindi during the 2019 Safari Sevens at the RFUEA Grounds. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“Last year was different because the players were young, some were unavailable then there were injuries. It was a difficult year for the coaches but this year it is a bit different for us,” Feeney opined.

Shujaa are drawn into a tough pool in Dubai as they will face off with South Africa, England and Spain and will have to dig deep to achieve their target of qualifying for the Main Cup quarters.

“It’s going to be a tough ask. When you finish 13th then you get tougher teams in the draw because we will have to knock down either England or South Africa to get to the quarters. But also, we have to respect Spain because they have proved a tough nut to crack,”

“That’s what we are aiming at and you got to aim high and aim at something that is achievable. But we think it is achievable and we will work hard to see that we achieve it,” stated the tactician.

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Meanwhile, Feeney has thrown a challenge at the players to show their worth over the next 10 legs of the World Series if they want to play at the Olympics.

Kenya Shujaa players during the Safari Sevens at the RFUEA Grounds on October 19, 2019. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Kenya qualified to the Tokyo Games next year for a second consecutive time after clinching the Africa 7s title and Feeney believes this will be an extra motivation for his charges to perform well and achieve their top eight target.

“These boys have a massive carrot in July. They all want to go to the Olympics and they know how important it is. To get there, they need to perform over the next 10 tournaments to get into the Olympics team. They have something massive to work for. It was vital to have that victory and it sets our season nicely,” stated Feeney.

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