Kenya 7s coach believes side are back on track

By francis marangu
Feb 18, 2015
  • Kenya 7s Coach Felix Ochieng.(Photo:SNA File)

Kenya Sevens rugby team is on course back to its lost glory, head coach Felix Ochieng declared on Wednesday morning upon return from USA.

It has been a tough journey in the HSBC World Series since the departure of former coach Mike Friday. Their outing in the last two legs has been the best performance since then managing the first quarterfinal spot.

The team collected a total of 18 points, seven more than they managed in the first three legs. In Wellington, Kenya collected 10 points and 8 from Las Vegas.

Overall, they are 12th with 29 points. Ochieng said the team is still not at its right position but was happy with the latest performance.

“Hats off to the players for the effort that they put...the outcome was based on that effort. We are still not where we want to be but obviously I think that there is a lot of ground that we can cover.”

For their quarter final qualification in Wellington, the players received bonuses amounting to approximately Ksh 1.3m from sponsors Kenya Airways.

Human Resource Director Alban Mwendar handed over the cheque and reiterated their continued support for the team. The biggest challenge for Ochieng was getting new and old players working together as a unit.

“Some players joined us in January and it was the first time they played together,” he said.

“With young players like Bush Mwale playing alongside experienced ones like Lavin Asego, it was not easy getting them to gel.”

His focus now shifts to the next leg in Hong Kong on March 27-29 where Kenya has been pooled together with USA, England and Wales.

Kayange available for selection

The team will face tough opposition but Ochieng insisted they have to be at their best to prevail.

“There are no easy pools anymore and it gives us the opportunity to build on our past performance.”

The game to watch will be against USA when Ochieng will be up against his former boss Friday.

He admitted that it will draw huge attention but nothing makes it a unique game from others. The coach said it will be an honour to face off with Friday who is a coach he respects a lot.

“It will be an interesting game but we will not single out one team from the pool. We must work harder because there is a lot needed from us.”

Captain Andrew Amonde said they posted better results due to increased confidence and belief within the playing unit. He added that Kenya is more than prepared to finish strongly in the remaining legs. “As a team, we are ready to play against any opposition.”

Injured players led by Humphrey Kayange are expected to be back and ready for selection ahead of the Hong Kong leg. Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) lauded the team saying they will continue to support them in all ways possible.

“We have created the right environment for the team to win. They have shown that with their performance in Wellington and Vegas,” said acting chairman Gabriel Ouko.

The team takes a 10-day break before resuming training.

As a result, players will miss out on the final day of Kenya Cup action this weekend but will be available for playoffs.