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Namcos warns no one is guaranteed Olympics slot

RUGBY By Rodgers Eshitemi | April 25th 2021
Kenya Sevens's Vincent Onyala in action against Chile at Dubai 7s. [Courtesy-Dubai 7s]

Kenya Sevens coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu has warned his players that no one is assured of a place in his final 13-man squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics slated for July 23-August 8 in Japan.

Even with the return of speedster Collins Injera in the team after missing out the last two invitational tournaments in Madrid and Dubai, the former Shujaa and Kenya 15s captain says he will have some tough decisions to make when naming the travelling party.

The national team (21 players) reported to a two-week residential at Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday ahead of the invitational Rugby Africa Men 7s solidarity camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

But according to Simiyu, the players that will participate in the two tournaments in South Africa on May 8-9 and May 14-15 will mirror his final squad for the Olympic Games.

“It is great to have Injera back into the team, but the competition is still high and everybody is raising hands for selection. We will see how it goes, but one thing for sure nobody is assured of a place in the Olympics team,” Simiyu told The Standard Sports.

“We run a very open system that’s objective and process-based. There are certain standards or matrices that everyone must meet for him to be in the team. So, the players that we select at any tournament will always be the best and the ones who have gone through the process.”

Kenya Sevens coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu. [File , The Standard]

He continued: “We are very clear in regards to where we are going and what we expect in all different positions. So, right now the biggest task we have is to assess all the footage and data we have collected on the players and how they have performed. Then now we will make our final decision before South Africa on the team that will more less go to the Olympics. The team selected for South Africa will be a close to or probable team for the Olympics.”

Though Simiyu has a great mix of experience and youth in his squad, he feels they still have a lot of work ahead of the Olympics.

“The team is in good shape, but I feel we are still behind our set targets. The key challenge we have, we are not consistent enough in terms of execution.  We are still working on it and we hope by the time we go for the Olympics we will be well,” said Simiyu.

“But we believe the future of the Kenya Sevens team is very bright. I think the biggest challenge we have right now is getting a team that can compete for medals at the Olympics. But in regards to the future and the World Series, I believe we have the right team after the Olympics.”

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