Shujaa’s heroics face trial ahead

Friday, September 9th, 2022 10:00 | By
Shujaa’s Vincent Onyala plays against a Canadian opponent in a past international match. PD/ALEX NJUE
Shujaa’s Vincent Onyala plays against a Canadian opponent in a past international match. PD/ALEX NJUE

Since the Kenya Sevens national rugby team made its debut in the World Cup sevens in 2001, its best performance remains the 2009 edition where it finished third.

 In the 2013 championships, it was placed fourth with Collins Injera and his sibling Humphrey Kayange stealing the thunder.  

Kenya’s title campaign was halted at the semi-finals despite burning the midnight oil where the late Benjamin Ayimba and Mike Friday were at the helm as coaches.

 Shujaa produced a stellar show in the 2018 season where they won their opening match but could not go past the round of 16 after losing all the other fixtures to finish 16th overall.

 Earlier in 2013, Shujaa was unbeaten to the cup semifinals where rainy Moscow weather gave England a chance to outfox them 12-5.

During the 2018 San Francisco bonanza then under coach Innocent Simiyu, Shujaa registered just one win to finish 16th overall despite parading big names including Collins Injera.

 Injera was a member of the 2009 and 2013 semifinal squads which also featured former captain Andrew Amonde, Willy Ambaka and Eden Agero.

Despite the floundering fortunes, Shujaa salvaged a try unlike in the last four when they lost 12-0 to Argentina. 

Under Coach Damian McGrath this weekend, Shujaa will need to come out in their true colours in an anticipated knockout competition and especially given their lean squad.

Squad selection

 Three key players missed out on the squad selection due to various reasons including dependable Alvin Otieno ‘Buffa’ who opted out due to personal commitments while Daniel Taabu and Bush Mwale were left behind due to disciplinary issues.

Shujaa is set to open their 2022 title campaign against Tonga on Friday at 11.23 pm where the winner will advance to the round of 16 where they will meet Argentina thereafter at 5.23 pm.

The Pumas have been invisible in Kenya since the emergence of the Corona Virus pandemic in 2019. Kenya’s last victory over them was in March 2019.

The 2022 edition to be held in Cape Town will be a Knock-out competition that will have 24 men’s teams contesting while 12 women’s teams will be in the fray. The men’s teams that will lose their opener rounds will battle for positions 17-24.

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