Kenya Sevens ready for Mexico as Challenger Series kicks off in Dubai

Kenya Seven's celebrate after winning the Africa Cup.[Courtesy, KRU]

Kenya's rugby sevens teams, Shujaa and the Lionesses, are set to begin their quest for a return to the World Rugby Sevens Series at the World Rugby Challenger Series.

The opening leg is scheduled to take place in the heat and heart of Dubai from Friday.

Shujaa will kick off their campaign against Mexico at 13:14 EAT today.

With the Dubai skyline as their backdrop, they are expected to showcase the flair and resilience that has become synonymous with Kenyan sevens rugby. The action intensifies as Shujaa faces East African rivals Uganda later in the evening at 17:58 EAT, before rounding off their Pool C matches against Germany at 12:59 EAT on Saturday.

The stakes are high for Shujaa, with co-Ccptain Tony Omondi emphasizing the team's ambition to ascend back to the elite ranks of the series. "Preparations have gone well. We know that to have a shot at getting back on the Series we have to finish in the top four, and that is the motive," Omondi stated with confidence.

The Lionesses are also ready to roar in the women's competition, starting against China at 11:36 EAT on Friday. Their journey through Pool B will continue with a clash against Czechia at 15:58 EAT, and they aim to conclude their initial fixtures on a high note against Mexico at 10:59 EAT on Saturday.

This year's Challenger Series has more on the line than ever, expanded to three rounds and culminating in a promotion and relegation play-off at the HSBC SVNS 2024 Grand Final in Madrid. The top four placed men’s and women’s teams from the Challenger Series will secure their place in this pivotal competition.

The captains of the 12 women’s and 12 men’s teams gathered at Dubai Creek Harbour, setting the stage for what promises to be an intensely competitive tournament. The Sevens Stadium in Dubai, renowned for its world-class facilities, will play host to the opening round, which mirrors the Olympic Games format with three pools of four teams each.

Kenya's Shujaa, pooled with former World Series participants Germany and regional rivals Uganda, as well as Mexico, are among the favorites to top their pool. With their sights firmly set on Paris 2024, the team's performance in Dubai will be critical to building momentum for Olympic qualification.

All teams qualified for the Challenger 2024 through regional competitions, representing the six World Rugby regions. The format is designed to boost the global development of rugby sevens, offering a diverse and competitive environment for the burgeoning sport.

As the excitement builds for the opening round, Shujaa and the Lionesses are determined to make an impression on the sands of Dubai, signaling their readiness to not just compete, but to dominate and secure their path back to rugby’s most prestigious sevens circuit.

Fixture Schedule:

SHUJAA (Men’s Team)

12 January: Kenya vs Mexico - 13:14 EAT

12 January: Kenya vs Uganda - 17:58 EAT

13 January: Kenya vs Germany - 12:59 EAT

LIONESSES (Women’s Team)

12 January: Kenya vs China - 11:36 EAT

12 January: Kenya vs Czechia - 15:58 EAT

13 January: Kenya vs Mexico - 10:59 EAT

By AFP 7 hrs ago
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