Five players have been retained from last year’s Kenya under-19 team for the Rugby Afruique tournament slated for Zimbabwe next week.
Skipper Tyson Okoth, Frank Khalwale, Billy Odhiambo, George Gitau and John Ochar are part of the 24-man squad that leaves the country on Monday for the four-day tournament that has also attracted hosts Zimbabwe, champions Namibia and Uganda.
Kenya will open their campaign against Zimbabwe with Namibia facing Uganda. Head coach Paul Odera expects stern test against the hosts. “As you know, Zimbabwe played at the Craven Week rugby tournament in South Africa in July and they are a very skillful side that plays with structure. At home, they will be tough to beat,” added Odera.
The Kenya side known as Chipu have very good record against Zimbabwe having beaten them 27-20 last year and winning 13-5 against them in 2013 in the same event.
As for Namibia, Odera expects the champions to be at their best. “ Namibia are different from Zimbabwe. They have very big aggressive forwards and their back three of the two wingers and fullback are very adventurous. I therefore expect a tough game from them but we are planning to combat them up-front and be strong in our set pieces,” added Odera. He said Uganda remain an unknown quantity in the event
Odera said the team has been working on their defence in preparation of the event. “We have worked hard on our defensive structure and want the players to avoid off-sides and watch out not to give penalties at the breakdowns,” added Odera.
He thanked the strength and conditioning coach Michael Owino, who he said had done tremendous job on the boys physique. “The boys are in good shape. If you saw them two months ago, they were light in terms of physique but credit to Mike. Conditioning has become very key in rugby and in today’s game, the boys have to be in good shape to win matches,” he said. Captain Tyson Okoth said morale within the squad was good and expects the side to go all out and perform well.
Squad: Okoth Tyson (Impala, captain), Gisemba Brian (Homeboyz), Imela Victor (Thika RFC), Kuka Charles (Mwamba RFC), Khalwale Frank (Harlequin), Kanianga Davis (Homeboyz), Kegode Balucci (Nondies), Keta David (Nondies), Khalechi Aaron (Homeboyz), Kimwele Michael (Calford School UK), Kongo George (Top Fry), Koronya Elisha (Harlequin), Ochami Douglas (Impala), Ochar John (Kisii RFC), Odhiambo Antony (Impala), Okeyo Moses (Impala), Okoyo William (Impala), Onyala Vincent (KCB), Onyango Steve (Impala), Opwondi Fredrick (Kabras Sugar), Otieno Bryan (Impala),Shabaan Julius (Strathmore Leos), Songoi Briam (Bungoma High) and Suchi Roxy (Kabras Sugar).