Defending champions Kabras Sugar are aiming to kick off their title defense on the front foot when they host newbies Catholic Monks at the Kakamega Showgrounds from 4pm as the 2022-2023 Kenya Cup season gets underway.
The new Kenya Cup season which is making a comeback after eight months of rest will be played in a one-off round-robin format which will run till March next year and the sugar men are planning for another crowning moment.
Kabras Sugar came from behind to beat rivals Menengai Oilers 34-28 in the finals played in March at the Bull Ring in Kakamega to end their five-year wait and new coach Carlos Katywa is keen for a repeat.
Katywa was appointed the new head coach of Kabras on Wednesday when the club launched its new jersey and unveiled a new look technical bench. He replaced South African Jerome Muller who ended KCB’s five-year reign by winning the Kenya Cup last season.
Speaking to the Standard Sports, Katywa said every match will be like a final for them.
The South African tactician who was part of Muller’s technical bench handling the forwards said they are going for the title again and despite resting over 10 players who are fresh from representing Kenya Simbas at the World Cup Repechage, they will be ready for Monks.
“Every match is a final for us. We are resting over 10 players with a key focus on offering them adequate rest and time to recover both physically and psychologically after what transpired in Dubai so that we can have even a stronger squad by January,” said the new coach who has already won the Victoria Cup this season.
“That doesn’t mean we are weak, we have a pool of talented players with typical skill sets that we believe can lead the team to victory in the opening three matches.”
Last season, Kabras won seven titles including the Kenya Cup, Enterprise Cup, Sisimuka Cup, Prinsloo Sevens, Kakamega Sevens, Dala Sevens and Mwamba Cup.
Catholic Monks on the other side will be making a return to the top tier after an eight-year hiatus and will have their work cut in Kakamega.
Other matches on match day one see last season’s runners up Menengai Oilers do battle with three time champions Mean Machine who are also making their return to the top flight after spending last season in the KRU Championship.
Kenya Harlequins will battle former champions KCB at the KCB Sports Club in Ruaraka.
The Ruaraka-based club, who were just named Impala Floodlights champions, will be eager to defeat the resilient Quins.
Paul Murunga’s team enters this game full of confidence following a recent 35-24 victory over Kabras RFC.
All eyes will however be on new Homeboyz coach Oscar Okaron who will be making his debut against Mwamba at RFUEA Grounds.
Okaron who was appointed to the role after guiding Koyonzo Secondary School to the KSSA National Rugby Sevens title in September said he is not afraid of anyone as he is ready for the new challenge.
“I am not new to rugby because I have played and coached at the same time,” he said.