Shujaa to trample on anyone who gets in their way

By Clement Wekulo: Friday, February 28th 2020 at 11:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
France's Pierre Gilles Lakafia scores a try during the HSBC Paris Sevens Series rugby match between France and Kenya at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris, on June 2, 2019. (Photo by Lucas BARIOULET / AFP)

Rugby team Shujaa will be eyeing a solid start when they launch their Los Angeles leg campaign with a pool B clash against familiar foes South Africa tomorrow.

Shujaa head to the fifth leg of the 2019-20 World Sevens Series on the back of underwhelming performances in their last outing which saw them finish last in Sydney, Australia.

However, the return of former skipper Oscar Ouma, coupled with the reverting of the USA tournament to the old format, has brought a sense of optimism in the Kenyan camp.

Unlike the Hamilton and Sydney events, where only pool winners remained in contention for the title, the Los Angeles tournament, which is a men’s only affair, will see the top two sides in each of the four pools progress to Sunday’s Main Cup quarter-finals.

“We are looking forward to the old format, which is far much better because Sevens is played on tiny things. You might lose one game by two points but that will not mean you can’t finish in a good position on the second day,” said Shujaa coach Paul Feeney, who is targeting a quarter-final berth during the two-day event.

In South Africa, Shujaa face a team they have collided with three times already this season with the Blitzboks boasting of a superior head to head record with two wins against Kenya’s one.

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The two sides, which are the only African teams with core status in the World Sevens Series, last faced off at the Hamilton Sevens in New Zealand last month where Feeney’s charges emerged 36-14 winners.

Kenya’s opener against the three-time Series winners could go a long way in defining their performance at the 27,000-seater Dignity Health Sports Park and captain Andrew Amonde is well aware of what’s at stake.

“Playing South Africa for the fourth time in the Series won’t be easy because they have beaten us twice. It will be a challenge but we have worked on our mental strength and we expect them to be a totally different side,” Amonde said.

“We are going to put our best foot forward for us to bring the results that everybody expects from us. It’s not going to be easy because we are in a tough pool which has quality sides and we shall not take them for granted,” the KCB forward added.

Amonde believes the duo of Ouma and Samuel Oliech, who are set for their first tournament since 2018, will bring the much-needed leadership within the playing unit.

Shujaa, who are 11th on the Series with 26 points, will also face Ireland and Canada in the preliminaries.

 

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