Shujaa hope to triumph in Hong Kong Sevens
Relegation-threatened Kenya Sevens national rugby team Shujaa is set to kick off the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament against world series leader New Zealand at 9.40 pm Kenyan time at the Hong Kong stadium today.
The global Sevens competition returns to Hong Kong as the eighth leg of the 11-legged 2022/23 season.
The first event hosted at the same venue in December last year kicked off the series where Kenya was shell-shocked by Ireland, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand and Uruguay to finish at the bottom with just a point.
Shujaa will play tough opponents and consistency will be a key factor. Dennis Abukuse and Brunson Madigu have been dropped from the squad that also featured in Los Angeles and Vancouver events and in their place experienced forward Jeff Oluoch and Johnstone Olindi will be yearning to impress.
The All Blacks Sevens try zone has almost been invincible for Kenya who have only managed to score a single try against the team that has won all three fixtures comfortably.
Comparing their last five, Shujaa has won two and lost three while the All Blacks have only lost once.
In the previous Hong Kong tourney, Kenya did not score a point while conceding a total of seven tries to lose 43-0. The rivalry was renewed again in Cape Town and in Sydney where Kenya lost 31-5 and 33-0 respectively.
Is the time ripe for Shujaa to finally claw New Zealand and Ireland? Despite their misfortunes in the US during the Los Angeles and Vancouver event, Kenya finally closed a long losing streak to South Africa with a 17-12 whip in Vancouver and the team will need to replicate the same dose against a BlitzBoks squad that has three uncapped players.
Also on top of the objectives will be an attempt to end this season’s losing streaks to New Zealand and Ireland to secure crucial points to save the boat from sinking into the relegation playoff in the final leg in London.
Hong Kong and Los Angeles legs were the worst-performed tours where the team managed a point in each game. This was a setback to the team that is now positioned 13th with 29 points and is at risk of relegation should the team continue to miss out on the main cup quarterfinals.
All eyes will be on whether Kenya will live up to the expectations of contending for the top eight position in Hong Kong this weekend and in Singapore next weekend.
The squad will play Ireland at 6.28 am and close the pool matches against South Africa at 10.25 am on Saturday.