Big test for Kenyan charges in Paris

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, May 13th 2017 at 09:56 GMT +3 | Rugby
Kenya's Shujaa Andrew Amonde holds off a challenge from Rwanda's player during their 2016 Safari Sevens match at Kasarani Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

Kenya Sevens captain Andrew Amonde expects a tough but exciting Day One of the Paris Sevens, the ninth round of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series, at the Stade Jean-Bouin this afternoon.

Shujaa, who lie in eleventh place on the log with 57 points, have been drawn in Pool C alongside familiar foes France, England, the Cape Town and Vancouver Sevens champions, and invitational side Spain.

History favours Kenyans against France. Kenya has had a good run against the hosts but a miserable record against third-placed England this season.

Save for the Dubai Sevens’ 24-14 defeat to France, Kenya have won all their last three meetings (33-14, 7-14, 29-12).

But there is a different script against England, who have beaten Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu’s charges in all their last four encounters including last leg’s 13-12 Main Cup quarter final loss in Singapore.

As Kenya prepares to face-off with France in their opening Pool C match at 1.12pm before battling England later tonight (8.26pm), Amonde has called on his teammates to remain focused and improve on their Singapore performance.

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“Tomorrow (today) will be a big test on our side. We have a team that has been getting better in every tournament they have been into. Our team target is to play better than the last tournament,” Amonde told The Standard Sports from Paris.

“France, Spain and England are very good sides, but we just need to express ourselves well and get the results we want.

“Of course France have a lot to lose because they will be playing before their home crowd. All the pressure is on them.

“We are going to focus on what we can do not on what France is going to do.”

For Kenya Harlequin winger Frank Wanyama, the tournament presents an opportunity for them to break the jinx against England and extend their dominance over France.

“We are expecting an improvement in performance after Singapore. The last minute loss to England was painful. I think this is our chance to revenge that defeat,” Wanyama said.

“Although France will be boosted by the home ground advantage, we are also motivated by the fact that we have beaten them thrice this season.”

Meanwhile, Kenya Simbas team left the country yesterday morning for a ten-day training camp in Cape Town, South Africa, ahead of their home test fixture against Germany on May 27.

Kenya Commercial Bank flanker Davis Chenge will captain the 30-man squad in the absence of Wilson K’Opondo.