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Shujaa shift focus to South Africa 7s after Dubai show

RUGBY By Washington Onyango | April 11th 2021
Kenya Sevens's Billy Odhiambo in action against Uganda at Dubai 7s. [Courtesy-Dubai 7s]

Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu has promised to turn around the mixed results that Shujaa registered at the Emirates Dubai Invitational Sevens tournament.

Shujaa finished fifth in the final leg of the Dubai Sevens that ended on Friday after thrashing rivals Uganda 36-5 in the Plate final, a result which was a drop in performance from the first leg which they finished third.

The national team had stunningly lost to Chile 14-12 in the Cup quarterfinals, a result that saw them relegated to the Plate semis where they edged out Spain 27-15.

Speaking after the tournament, Shujaa coach Simiyu said simple errors proved costly to them in the match against Chile.

“We were very unfortunate to lose to Chile considering how we played before. The team has been making unforced errors. We tried to win the game at the death against but we were unlucky,” said Simiyu.

Namcos as the coach is known in rugby circles however applauded Kenya’s response after being knocked out of the Main Cup quarters.

“We responded well against Spain, drilling in five tries and then against Uganda, a sign that the boys are ready to move on and build their confidence going forward.”

Kenya Sevens's Vincent Onyala in action against Chile at Dubai 7s. [Courtesy-Dubai 7s]

Simiyu, who was reappointed Shujaa’s coach in September last year, confirmed majority of the players have a few knocks and they will be assessing the squad before resuming training in a weeks’ time.

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“We have a few knocks-just normal rugby knocks and we will be assessing how the players progress with an eye set at having tall the players fit before we resume training on April 18 at Kasarani,” he said.

Simiyu said their next cause is to be ready for the South Africa Invitational Sevens tournament later this month.

“We have another chance and opportunity to play other teams and gauge ourselves further. This will be key for us as we continue building our chemistry ahead of the Olympic Games,” he said.

Kenya topped Pool Blue after winning all their three matches in the opening day of the Dubai final leg event.

Shujaa saw off Spain (17-14), Canada (21-10) and Uganda (28-10) to lead the pool with nine points, an improvement from their performance witnessed last weekend in the first leg of the event where they finished a distant third.

On the final day, Kenya were knocked out of the Dubai Sevens Main Cup after losing to Chile in the quarterfinals.

Shujaa coach Innocent Simiyu. [File, Standard]

Chile shocked Kenya 14-12 to sail through to the semifinals as Kenya dropped to the Plate Cup semifinals.

In the fifth place semis, Kenya saw off a stubborn Spain 27-15 to glide into the finals where they defeated Uganda.

Meanwhile, Kenya Lionesses finished fifth ahead of Japan despite failing to win any of their six matches they played in a round-robin format against USA, Brazil, Japan, Canada and France. 

In the opening day, Lionesses lost 22-5 to Canada in the opening match before going down 31-5 to France.

The Lionesses were then denied a win by Japan after the Asians rallied in the second half to hold Kenya to a 10-10 draw.

In the second day, Kenya suffered three after narrowly going down 15-12 against Brazil followed by a 22-10 defeat to USA and 43-0 against Japan.

Meanwhile, Queensland Reds flyhalf James O’Connor kicked a late penalty to secure a 24-22 victory over ACT Brumbies in Brisbane yesterday.

The Reds had trailed by nine points with 15 minutes remaining but finished the stronger with O’Connor kicking 14 points.

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