• All eyes on quality of players Otieno will build Kenya team on

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Jun 01, 2011-

Michael “Tank” Otieno on Thursday holds a Press conference about how Kenya is shaping up for what is being regarded a high profile rugby match with South African provincial side Mpumalanga next week.

The Kenya team has been having their regular Monday to Wednesday training sessions and Otieno’s 10am  brief at the RFUEA ground will be to, for the first time, indicate who would be in the team.

The full-fledged Kenya national team are set for two eagerly-awaited matches in Nairobi on June and 11.

The Mpumalanga “Pumas” thrashed Kenya  101-7 when they  toured South Africa last year and Kenya regards the team as the most difficult opponents they have ever faced.

Later in the year, Kenya will be hosts to a Confederation of African Rugby,CAR tournament for the top rated teams in the continent (outside South Africa). No. 21 world ranked Namibia, Morocco (26), Kenya (35) and Tunisia (36) will contest the CAR Cup in a tournament in Nairobi between November 7 and 12.

Previously, Kenya has had home victories over all their rivals in the CAR campaign, including victory in Nairobi over World Cup-bound Namibia when they last met in Nairobi.

Mpumalanga, despite being only a provincial side, are therefore, easily the most difficult opponents Kenya have ever faced.

International engagement for the Kenyans has been scant but new efforts by the Kenya Rugby Union,KRU is to keep the team busy in a well planned calendar. Assembling a side against the “Pumas” is being seen as a base to build a productive national side.

Otieno will give his assessment of the players in the squad, who will break from training to play in the weekend finals of the Bamburi Super Series rugby tournament.

After training resumes next Monday, the Kenya team for the “First Test” against the Pumas on June 8 will be announced.

Over a week ago, the Pumas’ team manager, Marius van Rensburg, sent to his Kenyan counterparts the names of the 35-strong tour party of the South Africans.

The KRU chairman, Mwangi Muthee, on Wednesday said, preparations for hosting the Pumas were going on smoothly.

“The Kenya squad takes a break from training in the evening (Wednesday). Tomorrow they will have a trial match against a select side comprising Bamburi Super Series players. After that, KRU in conjunction with Nondescripts RUFC, will host a bar-b-cue for the players. The tour mood is definitely building up,” Muthee said.

He added: "But everyone is waiting to start making familiarity with the national team. They want to see what sort of players will be common features and productive on a long term basis. 

"We expect those chosen to realize and be prepared for a demanding environment and work for success in competition day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out, month-in, month out. We also want them to bring quality and appetite to their respective positions.”

 

 

Sportsnewsarena Correspondent

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