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Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Shujaa title hopes in doubt ahead of Singapore Sevens

by April 12, 2017 General


Collins Injera (left) during a past rugby match. PHOTO | AFP

Collins Injera (left) during a past rugby match. PHOTO | AFP 

The national sevens rugby team return to Singapore, where they won their first ever main cup title last year, without much optimism in successfully defending the title.

They face Argentina, Australia and Samoa in Pool C.

The performances this season round have not been fulfilling, as Shujaa have only made the main cup quarters once in seven rounds thus far, in Cape Town, as opposed to the 2015/2016 season, in which they made it to the main cup quarters five times at a similar stage.

“If we are not careful, we will be in a real danger of relegation battle next year. Our performance this season has been poor — we are making the same mistakes over and over,” said Kenya Harlequins director of rugby Charles Cardovillis.

Ball handling, defending and kicking have been some of Kenya’s weaknesses this season, signalling a major change in team tactics introduced by new coach Innocent Simiyu.

“Innocent was a very good rugby player for this country. But it seems the coaching bit is not working well for him,” added Cardovillis.

At a press conference ahead of the Singapore Sevens on Tuesday, former series leading try scorer Collins Injera fell short of admitting that defending the title in Singapore would be a tall order, saying that the team has struggled this season.

“We’ve had an up and down season, not really been hitting our targets. We just want to take each game at a time starting with Argentina,” said Injera.

“Winning a leg just makes you a target for other teams. Everyone just wants to put a good fight against you. And I think for us, it has been a tough season.”

With only three legs left in the season, Kenya Sevens find themselves in a precarious 11th position with 47 points, 16 less than what they had at a similar stage last season.

Worse still, it has been difficult to achieve the target of 10 points per round, set by Simiyu at the beginning of the season.

The best performance this season was Cape Town, where they collected 12 points to finish sixth.

“We continue to work hard, keep doing the things that we are doing good, and work towards correcting the once that we are not,” said Simiyu earlier.

The Singapore leg might even be tougher for Shujaa as most of the players appeared to be still nursing injuries suffered in the past.

An injured Billy Odhiambo flew to Hong Kong as a late replacement for Dan Sikuta and Willy Ambaka who did not travel for various reasons.