Kenya 7s team Shujaa on course for Olympics

By Clement Wekulo: Saturday, November 9th 2019 at 15:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
Alvin Otieno (with ball) of Morans outpaces Cecil Sebastian of South Africa during their Tusker Safari Sevens 2019 tournament match at RFUEA Grounds on October 20, 2019. Morans 19-14. Photo/Stafford Ondego

The Kenya national men’s rugby Sevens team Shujaa inched closer to the 2020 Olympic Games after reaching the semi-finals of the Africa Sevens in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday.

Paul Feeney’s charges won all their three matches at the Bosman Stadium to proceed to the last four with a game to spare and they are looking to secure top spot in pool B as they wind up their preliminaries with an East African derby against Uganda at 11:50am today.

The winner of the continental tournament will earn direct qualification to the Tokyo event with the second and third-place finishers heading to a repechage showpiece to try and qualify against teams from other regions.

With the 14-team Africa Sevens having adopted a new format, Shujaa started their campaign with a 36-7 win over Ivory Coast in a first round match which saw the Kenyans score six tries and two conversions.

The result propelled the Andrew Amonde-led team to pool B where they were pitted against the trio of Senegal, Uganda and Namibia, who also won their respective ties in the first round.

Shujaa, bolstered by the return of a number of key players including William Ambaka and Billy Odhiambo, would then go on to thrash the Senegalese 50-0 before following it up with a 33-0  victory over Namibia, an outcome that sealed their qualification to the Main Cup semi-finals.

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Against Senegal, Kenya took a commanding 33-0 lead at halftime with KCB duo of Johnstone Olindi and Vincent Onyala helping themselves to two tries each while deputy captain Jeffrey Oluoch also crossed the whitewash for a converted try.

In the second half, Jacob Ojee inked his name on the score sheet before Onyala completed his brace with a converted try, paving the way for Billy Odhiambo to complete the rout.

Captain Amonde opened the scoring against Namibia with a converted try before Daniel Taabu converted Nelson Oyoo’s try to give the side a 14-0 lead.

Oyoo returned to the scoresheet with his second try of the match as Kenya led 19-0 at halftime. Further tries by Billy Odhiambo and Ambaka ensured Kenya maintained their unbeaten start.

Eight teams have so far booked slots at the rugby Sevens Olympics with Japan set to feature by virtue of being hosts.

Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa made it to the summer games after finishing in the top four during the 2018-19 World Sevens Series while Great Britain, Argentina and Canada won their regional tournaments.

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