No laughing matter for Shujaa in opener

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, March 10th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Kenya will be hoping to continue from where they left off in the USA when the clash with France tonight (9.14pm) in the opening Group C match of the Canada Sevens at the BC Place in Vancouver.

It will be a perfect opportunity for Shujaa to avenge the 19-14 defeat to the European side last weekend at the similar stage in Las Vegas where they garnered ten points after falling 26-21 to Australia in the fifth place semi-finals.

The East Africans, who maintained eighth position with 45 points after round five of the 2017/2018 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, will face Spain tomorrow at 12.46am before wrapping up the preliminary round with a clash against another familiar opponent Fiji (4.40am).

Having played against France and Fiji last weekend, Shujaa head coach Innocent Simiyu expects a very tough but interesting preliminary round battle.

“We have a tough pool though we’re playing France and Fiji again as well as Spain for the first time this season. It will be interesting to see how the boys play this weekend,” said Simiyu.

But with impressive preparation and fitness level, the former national Fifteens and Sevens captain is confident of good outing in Canada.

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”Key focus has been on our preparation so that we ensure we start well and finish well, hit our performance targets early and consistently,” he said.

“So far the players have responded well, thanks to Kim and Lamech (fitness coaches) who have managed to get them to 100 per cent recovery after Vegas, they are eager and ready to go.”

Just like Simiyu, Kenya Harlequin centre Willy Ambaka expects an improved performance in Vancouver.

“We started a little bit slow in Las Vegas, but built up very well as the games went on. We have to take the positives that we had there as we move to Vancouver. We had tight games in Vegas and we need to fix the few mistakes ahead of the next round," Ambaka said.

Meanwhile, Impala will clash with Ngong Road rivals Kenya Harlequin in today’s quarter-finals of the 2017/2018 Kenya Cup League as former champions Kabras face Strathmore.

The winners in the Ngong Road derby will book a semi-finals date with holders Kenya Commercial Bank as the victors in the other quarters clash with Homeboyz on March 17.

Related Topics: Kenya USA France
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