Kenya travel to Johannesburg in South Africa with a squad full of household names as they look to overturn last year’s shock 17-5 defeat to Zimbabwe and reclaim the Africa Sevens title.
With Olympic qualification also on the line at the Bosman Stadium, the Shujaa will be led this weekend by Andrew Amonde (pictured), a veteran of 333 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series matches, while other legends of the circuit such as vice-captains Jeffrey Oluoch and Jacob Ojee, Willy Ambaka and Billy ‘The Kid’ Odhiambo are also ready to light up the tournament.
Kenya’s leading try-scorer Collin Injera, however, is ruled out after picking up an injury in last month’s Safari Sevens win.
The Shujaa were crowned champions when the tournament was last played in Johannesburg in 2015, and with such a stellar line-up on show, they will be fancied to collect a fifth title.
“We’re definitely looking forward to reclaiming the Cup which we lost last year to Zimbabwe,” said team manager Erick Ogweno, quoted by World Rugby.
“This year’s tournament is equally important as it also turns out to be an Olympic qualifier. It will be best for us to seal the Tokyo 2020 ticket while in Johannesburg as opposed to proceeding to the repechage. It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at the Olympics.
“The preparations have been ideal; I trust the best we’ve had in years and this was topped up by the Safari Sevens win for the young lads.
“The preparations and winning the Safari Sevens give us the momentum we require to enable us to reclaim the trophy.”
Eight teams have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 – Japan as hosts and four through the series, Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa, while Great Britain, Argentina and Canada came through their respective regional qualification tournaments.
With the Oceania Sevens also taking place this weekend, two more of the 12 spots will be taken up, leaving Asia as the last region to send a qualifier to Japan. The Asian qualification tournament takes place in Incheon, Korea later this month, on 23-24 November.
While Africa Sevens champion will take the direct route to Tokyo, the second and third-placed teams will go through to the World Rugby Global Repechage competition in June 2020 which will round off the qualification process.
As well as providing a ticket to Tokyo 2020, the teams finishing in first and second place at the Africa Men’s Sevens will be in the mix for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier tournament with more details to be announced in due course.
-World Rugby Story