Namibia set for pole position in Gold Cup

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jul 07, 2017
  • Wilson K'Opondo returns from injury to captain Kenya against Tunisia in a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match at the RFUEA ground on Saturday. (SNA. File Photo)

Namibia is poised to overtake Uganda at the top of Rugby Africa Gold Cup table when they host Senegal on Saturday in Windhoek.

Already, the current champions of the expanded competition have collected a bonus point in their 53-7 drubbing of returnees Tunisia on July 1 in Monastir.

Uganda who drew 33-33 with Kenya on match day one before edging out Senegal 17-16 in Dakar top the table with six points. They have no match this weekend but have a chance to watch their next opponents Tunisia who are in Nairobi.

There have been more changes in the Kenya team amidst discontent by the playing unit and cracks in the technical bench which continues to widen and jeopardize the team's chances in future matches.

Arbitrary changes were made ahead of the return match against Uganda which nearly cost Kenya who scrapped a 33-33 draw. Then, there were whispers about the head coach's intention of 'recalling' players who were 'dropped'.

Sportsnewsarena learned some of these these players had written apology letters to the team's management and KRU after they were deemed to have been vocal in the way the team was managed.

Their apology letters were a formality to sanitize the technical bench. Since then, there have been revelations by other players who spoke to SNA about the toxic environment in the 15's team which they blamed on a few individuals and not the head coach.

Declined call up

Details of the environment were exposed after allegations that two players Andrew Amonde and Sam Oliech had declined a call up. SNA were unable to reach the two players but their colleagues disagreed.

"These players did not turn their back on the 15's team as alleged by the team manager. They had made prior plans for the tournament in Sri Lanka. It is when they went to request for release letters at KRU that the 15's realized they needed their services," the colleagues stated.

Last year, the 15's team were able to scale new heights without the 7's players and not much has changed since then. "The sevens players should not be a scapegoat. Something s not right in the set up," these players alleged.

Although the players stopped short of mentioning the real cause, SNA through independent sources established they were referring to some of the players who had been dropped on disciplinary grounds.

These are the players who the team's management needed to reach out to. "They should call up these players. We have very capable players in the coutry," our source stated.

Other players who have been in the set up weighed in. "Players are not happy with the set up. There is a lot that need to change for the team to succeed. This includes the environment and the technical aspects," they stated.

The head coach, Jerome Paarwater appears to have escaped the blame despite being used as a scapegoat because of his input. "The coach has always stood by his players but the people who run the team have always backstabbed him," a former player who spoke with the coach after the match against Uganda revealed.

Parting shot

As a parting shot, the player stated: "The writing is on the wall if an individual or two call the shots from being a selector, coach, disciplinarian and financier."

It is under this cloud that Kenya will face Tunisia on Saturday.

On Friday, the technical bench admitted every team has stepped up their game which is why Kenya struggled against Uganda. They observed Uganda have had several months of preparations which is paying off.

 In that match, the Kenya technical bench explained they were not subdued by Uganda upfront. "We were okay. Uganda were lucky because at breakdowns, they were not rolling away and were let off the hook. We have adjusted this. Our chase lines were really bad resulting in a lot of yards gained. This alone cost us about 18 points," they admitted.

They watched Tunisia's last match against Namibia and acknowledged they have big and aggressive forwards and a good back three who play with a lot of flair. It is these key areas Kenya inted to use to battle the returnees to the top tier Gold Cup on Saturday.

Line ups

Kenya: 15. Tony Onyango, 14. Darwin Mukidza, 13. David Ambunya, 12. Leo Sejje, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Isaac Adimo, 9. Samson Onsomu; 1. Moses Amusala, 2. Peter Karia, 3. Dennis Karani, 4. Wilson K'Opondo (captain), 5. George Nyambua, 6. Eric Kerre, 7. Davis Chenge, 8. Joshua Chisanga.

Replacements: 16. Philip Ikambili, 18. Oscar Simiyu, 19. Martin Owila, 20. Stephen Otieno, 21. Lyle Asiligwa, 22. Kenny Andola, 23. Dennis Muhanji.

Management: Jerome Paarwaters (head coach), Wangila Simiyu (team manager), Chris Makacha (physiotherapist).

Tunisia: 15 Bilal Souker, 14. Seifeddine Boussaada, 13. Mohamed Achref Dhif, 12. Dhia Ben Dhiab, 11. Ahmed Nasri, 10. Sofiene Ben Aicha, 9. Abdennaceur Missaoui; 1. Hamza Beji, 2. Hossem Khalfi, 3. Oubaidallah Daghfous, 4. Hichem Mokni, 5. Issam Werhani, 6. Naceurredine Mili, 7. Yahya Graa, 8. Nizar Nasri.

Replacements: 16. Mohammed Yassine Ben Abdallah, 17. Badie Dahmoul, 18. Seifeddine Ben Abderrahmen, 19. Achref Ben Hamouda, 20. Abbes Kherfani, 21. Sami Minsi, 22. Hamdi Mechri, 23. Hamza Mbarki.

Management: Belgacem Boughanmi (head coach), Mohamed Ali Hedi (team manager), Wael Ben Dhiab (physiotherapist). 

Fixtures

June 24: Kenya 33 Uganda 33, Senegal 16 Zimbabwe 28.

July 1: Senegal 16 Uganda 17, Tunisia 7 Namibia 53.

July 8: Kenya v Tunisia (Nairobi), Namibia v Senegal (Windhoek).

July 15: Kenya v Senegal (Nairobi), Uganda v Tunisia (Kampala), Namibia v Zimbabwe (Windhoek).

July 22: Uganda v Namibia (Kampala), Zimbabwe v Kenya (Bulawayo).

July 29: Zimbabwe v Tunisia (Harare), Namibia v Kenya (Windhoek).

August 5: Uganda v Zimbabwe (Kampala), Tunisia v Senegal (Monastir).