Onyala returns as Shujaa heads for Olympic qualifiers

Kenya Sevens winger Vincent Onyala in a past action against Chile at Dubai 7s. [World Rugby]

KCB RFC winger Vincent Onyala has been recalled to the Shujaa squad that will play at this weekend’s Rugby Africa 7s in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The tournament will also act as the African Qualification Tournament for the rugby sevens competition at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Onyala missed the better part of the 2022/23 World Rugby Sevens Series due to injury and returns to co-captain the side along another experienced campaigner in Tony Omondi.

The duo is among six regulars who make up the 12-man team to Harare, the others being Kevin Wekesa, Brian Tanga, John Okoth and George Ooro.

Head coach Kevin 'Bling' Wambua has given maiden call ups to six other players namely Samuel Asati and Beldad Ogeta who have been capped by Kenya at test level, Daystar Falcons flier Patrick Odongo as well as Kabras Sugar’s William Mwanji, Strathmore Leos’ Nygel Amaitsa and Festus Shiasi from KCB.

Shujaa are in Group B alongside Nigeria, Namibia and Zambia, while Group A has former World Sevens Series champions South Africa, Madagascar, Tunisia and Ivory Coast. Group C consists of African champions Uganda, hosts Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Algeria. 

Wambua believes he has selected the best players who are ready to fight for the team and qualify for the Olympics for the second time in a row.

“We’ve had good preparations. We’ve had two back to back camps where we’ve taken the time to set our foundation on how we want to play. There are a few things we really wanted to improve and the camps were quite helpful. We are very grateful to St. Andrews’ Turi and look forward to more of that in the future,” Wambua said during Tuesday’s squad announcement ceremony at RFUEA Grounds.

“The boys have responded well to our training sessions and I believe we are in a very good place for the qualifiers. We want to take a game at a time and play every game like a final. We have to get out of the pool stage first. We want to be in a position that sees us top the pool at the close of day one and embark on the quarters. The boys believe they can go all the way.”

Commenting on the squad’s composition, Wambua said: “It is perfectly balanced, we have six players who have been in the set up and six new boys coming in. Three of the new call ups were in the setup before and the other three are first timers and it is very important that we give the boys confidence because we know they have the ability to take on the rest of Africa.”

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