Shujaa seek to reclaim lost glory in Dubai
The Kenya Sevens rugby team Shujaa is set to meet Australia, South Africa and Great Britain in the Dubai Sevens competition.
A mixed squad of experienced and youthful charges returns to the second World series leg with hopes of redeeming themselves from a 15th place finish in Hong Kong last month.
Shujaa had a tough World series start in Hong Kong where they lost all their fixtures to finish with just a point.
The team is back in action today and tomorrow where the focus will be on winning matches after a disappointing opening leg in Hong Kong won by Australia whom Shujaa will meet in Dubai opening match today at 10.56am.
Shujaa will then play South Africa at 2.20pm before wrapping up pool A contention against Great Britain at 7.18pm.
During the opening leg in Hong Kong, Shujaa’s kickoffs and decisions were not accurate and in the process the team was clawed by Ireland, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand and Uruguay but with a few positives.
The team that had unpaid allowances for months will be expected to return to the top eight knockouts.
Two pool wins will be required while failure will send them back to the ninth place quarterfinals. Their employer the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) owned up for the mess when the officials met the Ministry of Sports delegates to discuss on the way forward.
The 13-man squad named by coach Damian McGrath last week saw the experienced duo of Vincent Onyala and Bush Mwale dropped and in their absence two debutants will be required to fill in their gaps.
KCB’s forward Bob Muhati and Mwamba’s playmaker Ronnie Omondi have taken up their places alongside Hong Kong’s debuting duo of George Ooro and Dennis Abukuse.
The team of mixed talent will look forward to improve on their performance in Dubai and later next week in Cape Town.
Shujaa boss McGrath is confident in his squad that the team will improve performance compared to the Hong Kong tournament.
“We’ve got faith in the two players because they have trained very hard and they will join George Ooro and Dennis Abukuse from the last leg as the new starters.
“Onyala and Mwale do not make the travelling party. Unfortunately we’ve lost Onyala to an injury he sustained at the end of the season which is a real blow for the team.
“He’ll be a difficult man to replace while Mwale has been unavailable for training because of off-field issues and other commitments,” coach McGrath said.
Other experienced players who retained their slots included skipper Nelson Oyoo, Johnstone Olindi, Daniel Taabu, Billy Odhiambo, Herman Humwa, Willy Ambaka, Kevin Wekesa and Tony Omondi.