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Rugby: Simbas coach Odera to Miss Elgon Cup return leg

RUGBY By Clement Wekulo | July 2nd 2019
Outside Half player, Kennedy Moseti shield the ball from his Ugandan opponents Asuman Mugerwa, second left, and Team Captain Brian Odong during the Elgon Cup match at Harliquin grounds on Saturday, June 13th, 2015. PHOTO/ JONAH ONYANGO

Kenya 15s coach Paul Odera will not be on the touchline when the Simbas face Uganda in the Elgon Cup return fixture in Kampala next weekend due to his involvement with the national Under-20 team.

Odera, who took over the reins of the senior men’s team in May, doubles up as the head coach of the Under-20 national team, nicknamed Chipu, which departs for Brazil on Thursday to honour the World Junior Championship.

Speaking to Standard Sports, the former Kenya international said he will relinquish his role at Chipu when the global tournament concludes in order to concentrate on Simbas.

“It is definitely not an ideal situation and it is quite unfortunate that it cannot be avoided. It is a big challenge for me as a coach and I just want to ensure that we carry on with the transition as we plan to incorporate the younger players into our senior system,” Odera said.

In Odera’s absence, his assistant Albertus Van Buuren and Kenya Rugby Union Director of Rugby Thomas Odundo will take charge of the team in the Ugandan capital.

With Kenya having suffered a shock 16-13 loss to the Cranes in Kisumu, the pair will be tasked with masterminding a comeback as Simbas seek to clinch the Elgon Cup for a fifth time in a row.

Apart from the coach, a host of players who did duty in the first leg a week ago will also be unavailable since they are part of the travelling party to Brazil. They are Homeboyz forward Emmanuel Silungi, Jeff Mutuku of Kenya Harlequins, KCB’s Geoffrey Okwach, Dominic Coulson and John Okoth.

There should, however, be enough cover for the five with Odera having hinted at recalling some of the experienced faces to aid their mission of overturning the three-point deficit.

“We should have comfortably won the first leg, but the boys were let down by inexperience during crucial stages since a good number of them had never played at such a level,” Odera said.

While downplaying his absence, Odera said the Simbas stand a good chance of beating Uganda at their own backyard.

“I have talked to the players and they know what is at stake even if I won’t be around. The team will be under competent individuals,” added Odera.

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