Ouma, Oliech back to power Shujaa’s tour of America

By Alex Njue
Friday, February 21st, 2020
Kenya’s Oscar Ouma with a hand-off against Samoa during the 2018 Hamilton Sevens tournament in New Zealand. FILE

Long-term absentees Oscar Ouma and Sammy Oliech are among the five changes made to the Kenya Sevens squad by head coach Paul Feeney ahead of the North America tour next weekend. 

Ouma, popularly known as Big Wheels, and Oliech are back to the fold for the first time since the 2017-18 season, and will be among the 13-man squad that also sees Oscar Dennis, Dan Sikuta and Jacob Ojee return for the February 29-March 1 Los Angeles and March 7-8 Vancouver legs in the USA and Canada respectively. 

The five replace Geoffrey Okwach, Herman Humwa, Bush Mwale, Johnstone Olindi and Nelson Oyoo with Feeney confident their experience will come in handy for a Shujaa side that has looked short of ideas at times this season.

“The five changes plus a positional change are exciting and it gives people opportunity. It’s great to have Oscar back as well as Sikuta, who missed the last two legs (Hamilton and Sydney). Oscar Dennis is back from his broken cheek bone, Oliech in for the first time with me and Ojee back from an injury,” said Feeney.

He added: “For the positional change, we are going to look at Vincent Onyala as a centre and not a forward since that is where he plays in 15s. Lots of old heads coming in and we still have a few of the young boys in there. This leg should be very interesting.” 

Ouma and Oliech expressed their delight to be back, saying they still have the hunger. 

“It’s all about doing justice to the jersey and respecting it. When it comes to the team’s performance, it can always improve because the team is in a good place with both experience and youth blending well. It’s just taking it up a notch higher and firing from all cylinders,” said Ouma.

Oliech said: “The team has been playing well despite a few slip-ups here and there. The hunger is definitely there and all that needs to be done is altering and refining a few things and everything should be good.” 

Andrew Amonde will retain the armband with Shujaa pooled alongside South Africa, Ireland and Canada for in Los Angeles where they will be looking for a top-two finish to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals.

Kenya, who are targeting a top-eight finish this season, are 11th on the 16-team table with 26 points and will have to correct the errors that have let them down in the first four legs and also increase their concentration if they have to achieve their ambitions.