Kenya Lionesses head coach Kevin Wambua says there is a positive vibe in the team ahead of the 2018 Sevens World Cup qualifiers to be held in Tunisia on Saturday, September 16 and 17 2017.
Tunisia is hosting the Africa Cup sevens that are doubling up as the Sevens World Cup qualifier where the sole winner will get the ticket.
“This actually brings a lot of energy to the team. If you look at how we selected the squad we’ve gone with the form and players who have achieved the targets that we set for them when we began our training.”
There are four changes from the side that reached cup quarters at the Women's Sevens Series qualifiers as Linet Moraa joins Catherine Abila, Irene Otieno and Prisca Nyerere in the non-traveling subs.
Rachel Mbogo makes her return since Rio 2016 while Janet Okello is also back while Cynthia Camila returns for the first time since Dubai 7s.
“We are lucky to have Janet Okello back who is one of the best players not only in Kenya but also in Africa and having her in full fitness is a big morale as we head into this competition,”
“We also have Judith Auma who is making her first appearance; I believe she’s worked very hard since we began training and we’ve been monitoring her progress ever since she joined the team last year and she really deserves to be on this team. She is going to give us an edge in terms of energy she brings to the team and it will be helpful to us,”
“If you also look at Cynthia Camilla, who is also one of our young players, she’s being in and out of the team but this time around she has put up her hand up and she deserves to be in. She also brings that energy that we need,”
“Rachel will be important to us especially in our set-pieces and also opposition set-pieces that we want to contest for,” said Wambua who named the team on Wednesday in Nairobi.
Kenya is grouped in Pool B of the tournament together with Zimbabwe, Senegal and Madagascar as defending champions South Africa headline Pool A which also features Uganda, Morocco and hosts Tunisia.
“I do believe people might see this as an easy pool but for me, it’s not and we’ve already discussed this with the team. It’s the World Cup qualifier and I do believe all the eight teams participating want to qualify for the World Cup,” added Wambua.
“For us, we know we have to win every game because if you look at the set up there is going to be seeding so they will look at points. Winning alone is not enough we have to win and make sure win with a lot of points so that by the end of the day we are on top of the pool and when re-seeding is done we are actually number one.”
In 2016, Kenya finished second after losing 22-17 to South Africa in Zimbabwe.
“If you look at the scores for the last two seasons we’ve been playing South Africa we actually have been reducing the deficit. Last year we lost the game in the last play, we were winning it,”
“What this has to done for us is it has given the girls belief that they can finally break the jinx. We’ve been working very hard for the last 11 weeks we’ve done our homework on them, a lot of video of video analysis and we’ve stepped up and polished up the areas that let us down last time out,”
“The girls are very psyched up there is a positive vibe in the team and are ready to take the game to South Africa.”
While only the winner of the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Championship will progress to San Francisco next year, the top-two Commonwealth countries will qualify for the rugby sevens tournament at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
1.Phila Olando 2.Sheila Chajira 3.Judith Auma 4.Sinaida Aura 5.Celestine Masinde 6.Cynthia Camila 7.Doreen Remor 8.Janet Okello 9.Grace Adhiambo 10.Rachel Mbogo 11.Janet Owino 12.Stacy Awor.