Title thirst persists after Shujaa Dubai trip aborts

Kenya Shujaa's John Okoth take a break during a past training session. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya Sevens failed to travel to Dubai on Thursday, losing a chance to step up their preparations for the 2024 Challenger Series.

Shujaa were targeting to continue with their top form at the Dubai Invitational Tournament scheduled to kick off on Friday.

Since being relegated from the World Rugby Sevens Series in May, Shujaa have been on an upward trajectory winning the 2023 Africa Sevens title, qualified for the Paris Olympics next year and won the 2023 Safari Sevens title.

The national team failed to secure funds in good time for the trip, leaving Shujaa and the ladies’ side, Lionesses, with a lost chance to sharpen their skills.

Speaking before the aborted trip, head coach Kecin ‘Bling’ Wambua said he was going to use the tournament to build further on the team’s strength by playing stronger and skilled teams outside of Africa.

“We have had a good start so far since we started our rebuilding process. The boys are mentally strong and hungry for success and we want to continue with the same spirit,” said Wambua.

“We know our strengths and mistakes and the idea here is to go out and rectify the mistakes and make perfect our strengths.”

Shujaa will be taking part in invitational tournaments, as well as the Challenger Series to help them achieve their season objectives of doing as well as they can at the forthcoming Olympics.

Shujaa were assigned to Group C in the men’s International Invitation Category, where they were to compete alongside Speranza 22, R10C Selects, and Wailers.

Kenya were pooled against R1OC Selects in their first match at 2:40pm today. Tomorrow, they were to play Wailers at 2:20pm before concluding their pool stage with a clash against Speranza 22 at 5pm on the same day.

Meanwhile, Kenya Lionesses also lost a chance to play Ireland Invitational, USA Falcons, Rhino Stompers, and French Militaire Sevens in Group B. Lionesses lost both the Africa Sevens title and Safari Sevens title in their last two outings.

The two national teams failed to travel to Dubai earlier due to lack of funds after the Ministry of Sports failed to release the required funds on time. According to a source at the union, the players were stranded despite being ready to leave, a situation that he said was beyond their hands.

“We had everything ready to go but we were missing a few signatures to release the funds. It’s sad that we won’t be able to travel as planned. There is a next time. We now go back and continue training,” said the anonymous source.

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