Homeboyz test depth at KCB, Impala seek first win in Kakamega

By francis marangu
May 20, 2021
  • Kabras and Homeboyz have a chance to reach the Enterprise Cup final. (SNA. File Photo)

  • Impala and Kenya Commercial Bank have a different menu on their plate in the Enterprise Cup semi-finals. (SNA. File Photo)

It will be time to test the quality of their depth this weekend when Kenya Commercial Bank RFC host to Homeboyz RFC in the Enterprise Cup semifinal duel at the Lions Den in Ruaraka.

Both teams are missing key players who are in South Africa with Kenya XV Simbas.

In their absence, it will require their depth to qualify for the final. Homeboyz and KCB are among the top teams boasting of high turnout for players who can play and win at such a tournament. This weekend offers the best test for that.

The deejays will be missing Tony Onyango, Cyprian Kuto, Emmanuel Mavala and Philip Ikambili among their top players while KCB has the likes of George Asin, Moses Amusala, Darwin Mukidza, Jacob Ojee and Davies Chenge missing.

Coaches Paul Murunga (Homeboyz) and Curtis Olago (KCB) have the tough task of crafting winning combinations without the luxury of their regulars.

Alvin Otieno and Collins Shikholi are likely to man the wings for Homeboyz with Steve Otieno starting at backrow. Steve Otieno and Shikoli were among top try scorers for Homeboyz in the league.

Curtis Lilako will steady KCB’s frontrow with Oliver Mang’eni at second row. They have been named to start on Saturday alongside experienced flanker Ian Indimuli.

The bankers have a good replacement for Mukidza at fullback in Elphas Otieno who is also a good kicker.

Felix Ojow, the flanker who joined KCB this season from Homeboyz is a replacement against his former side.

Homeboyz ended KCB's unbeaten run

When Homeboyz last played away to KCB in February, they won 33-24 win. They ended the winning run KCB was enjoying in the league.

This will not be the first meeting for KCB and Homeboyz in the knockout competition. In 2013, KCB eliminated Homeboyz in the quarterfinals with a 26-15 win.

Then in 2015, the bankers beat Homeboyz again in the final 28-0 to emerge winners. They are not new to each other in the tournament and KCB stands on the way of Homeboyz’ chase for a major fifteens title.

After missing out on the league title in a season they recruited heavily, Homeboyz will want to make up for that by winning the tournament.

KCB are the defending champions after winning back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. This year, they will want to get it right and enter history books among the teams that have successfully defended the title for consecutive years.

Forwards will have additional work to do in the match.

The second semifinal will be an emerging rivalry of some nature as Kabras Sugar host Impala RFC.

Any match between these teams is becoming an interesting watch every time they meet in the fifteens version. Kabras beat Impala to win the league title in 2016.

This season, they beat the gazelles in the regular season and knocked them out in the playoffs quarterfinals.

Last season, Kabras lost to KCB in the final. Coincidentally, they eliminated Impala in the semifinals with a 24-5 win in Kakamega where they play again on Saturday. They are yet to win in Kakamega against the sugar millers.

Double loses to KCB

Impala has played in the last three semifinals including double loses to KCB in 2014 and 2015. Could this be the year they make a step further?

“I think we are going to make it,” Duncan Ekasi, the Impala captain assured ahead of the match. “We are going there to give it our best. Since it’s a knockout and points don't matter, it will be about who takes their chances and is mentally fit.”

Ekasi admitted their win over rivals Kenya Harlequin last weekend set the best platform to prepare for Kabras. “We had been out of action for six weeks and the win was very important. On Saturday, it will be tough. The weather conditions are not what we like playing in and we lost our last match against Kabras.”

With Samson Onsomu away, Moses Kola has been tasked to use his experience at scrumhalf and will partner Mohamed Omollo who starts at flyhalf.

Omollo has pushed Robin Kiplang’at to fullback. Joash Ngesa comes in at center to replace Anthony Nyandigisi who has not made it to the travelling 23.

Lock Shem Angugo will make his debut as he starts alongside Davies Makori.