Last updated 11 months ago | By Clement Wekulo
National men’s rugby 15s team, Simbas, are looking to return to winning ways as they host Zambia in a Victoria Cup return fixture at the RFUEA ground today.
They head to today’s tie reeling from a 30-29 loss against Zimbabwe in their last outing in Bulawayo and anything short of a win against the Lawrence Njovu coached Zambia will dent their hopes of clinching the Victoria Cup.
The reverse fixture staged at the Diggers Rugby Club in Kitwe saw Kenya pick a comfortable 43-23 win and head coach Paul Odera will be hoping that his charges replicate or better their performance in the first leg.
“We are not changing our attack and defence systems because that would then confuse the players. We are working on refining them as we progress with the fixtures. Talent is not a problem in the country, what we need to rethink is the culture around the national teams,” Odera told the Kenya Rugby Union website.
The Kenyan coach has effected seven changes from the side that blew away a lead to lose to Zimbabwe with five uncapped players set to make their maiden appearance in national colours.
Francis Mwita will make his debut from the second row where he has been paired with Malcolm Onsando while Samuel Asati, Brian Amaitsa and Eliud Mulakoli also start. Another debutant, Ian Njenga of Nondescripts, has been named on the bench. Nakuru RFC’s John Okoth, Geoffrey Okwach of KCB and Homeboyz youngster Emmanuel Silungi have all been recalled to the relatively inexperienced squad which has an average age of 22 years.
The trio, who also feature for the national under-20 team, made their senior debut against Uganda in Kisumu in June.
In the absence of Peter Kilonzo, his KCB teammate Curtis Lilako, the oldest player in the team (29), takes up the captaincy and he will do with the assistance of two vice-captains, Jacob Ojee and Elkeans Musonye.
“I believe we are all ready for this weekend. There’s a good blend between the young players and a number of the experienced players,” said Lilako, who will win his 38th international cap today.
“The mood of the team can only be displayed on the pitch this Saturday so we are urging our fans to show up on the day and support us,” added Lilako.