Simbas must hunt down Algeria as they chase World Cup ticket

Simbas' Teddy Akala (left) in action against Eastern Province Elephants during the final Currie Cup fixture, at RFUEA, on June 11. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya Simbas on Saturday showed some glitters of the 2014 team after sparkling to life with an emphatic 42-7 win over Uganda Cranes in the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup quarterfinal match that doubles up as 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

Menengai Oilers star John Okoth led the onslaught with two tries as debutants Bethwel Anami of Strathmore Leos and Teddy Akala of Kabras Sugar announced their arrival in style.

Others in the scoresheet included Thomas Okeyo of University of Johannesburg and KCB scrum half Samwel Asati.

Victory now sees Simbas face off against Algeria in the semifinals.

The winner of the tournament scheduled to end on July 10 will get an automatic ticket to next year’s global event.

This means that Kenya has to defeat Algeria on Wednesday to stand a chance of making it to the World Cup.

If Kenya loses to the West Africans, who defeated Senegal 35-12 in their quarterfinal encounter, they'll be out of contention.

There is no second chance for those teams knocked out at the quarter or semi-final stage.

“Knockout rugby changes the mindset completely. The focus at training really has been on getting the players to do what they're meant to do the first time over," Kenya coach Paul Odera told World Rugby.

“It shifts the mindset completely because there are no second chances. Last year we were mute against Senegal in the first game and lost by one point, 20-19, but thankfully, we still had a second chance."

“In knockout rugby, you may have one error from the scrum-half and then maybe, another one from the second-row and full-back...they all add up. If those errors are at crucial moments in the game, you can suddenly find yourselves chasing a game.”

“Then you find yourself under pressure and start making more errors and before you know it, the game is over and you are out of the tournament.”

The losing finalists will still have a chance to secure their ticket to World Cup through the Final Qualification Tournament.

Just like eight years ago, the Simbas seem to be on the right track towards achieving their goal of qualifying for the global event.

In 2014, Simbas defeated heavyweights Namibia 29-22 in their opening duel of the World Cup Africa qualifiers on June 28.