Kenya expect tougher match against Zimbabwe in Victoria Cup

By eric odanga
Jul 28, 2021
  • Andrew Amonde, a former Kenya Sevens captain scored one of the tries against Zambia in Kitwe. (SNA File Photo)

  • Uganda had a false start in Kampala losing to visiting Zimbabwe who now go top of the table. (Photo Courtesy)

Thomas Odundo who coached Kenya against Zambia in the absence of head coach Paul Odera during the opening Victoria Cup match predicted a much tougher outing against Zimbabwe on Saturday in Bulawayo.

In an interview with Sports News Arena in Kitwe, Zambia. Odundo said: "The match against Zimbabwe will be a much harder game but we will take it as it comes."

He noted Zambia, who were playing against Kenya after a lull of 15 years were on the right path to top flight rugby if they played more matches. "Let's exchanges ideas. Zambia need a stronger national league so that players called up for national duty may reflect the strength of the league," he suggested.

Paul Kilonzo, the Kenya captain observed Zambia faded away in the last 10 minutes. "It's a good win for us. We did not know what to expect from Zambia. They played very hard and scored first and only faded at the last 10 minutes."

In the second half, Kenya returned to the basics and kept their structure to add three more tries. "We tried to over do some things," Kilonzo admitted.

True reflection

He acknowledged the score was a true reflection of the match after Kenya soaked pressure in the opening minutes. "Zambia kept us under a lot of pressure We conceded two soft tries. They are very good at the break down and are physical, what let them down was the fitness especially in the last 10 minutes."

Lawrence Njovu, the Zambia coach admitted it was tough playing against the second best team in Africa. "They are a seasoned team with professionals playing for 15's and 7's teams. It was a great effort by our team although we lost," Njovu explained.

But, there is a flicker of hope and Zambia are keen to improve as the tournament progresses.

"Playing in the tournament is good. We still have a lot of matches to play. By the time we will be finishing the circuit, I am sure we will have a seasoned team with a lot of experience who will be confident and not be intimidated by playing against a team like Kenya."

As a parting shot, Njovu admitted: "Everyone looks forward to winning but under the circumstances and looking at the team we were playing against, I will say this was a fair game and the boys put in their best."

Opening score

In this match, Fine Chinkumbe opened the scores in the third minute before Jacob Ojee replied with a try which he failed to convert in the fifth minute.

Andrew Amonde, the former Kenya 7's captain crossed the line twice and Billy Omondi added the fourth for a 20-13 lead at half time.

Laston Mukosa landed a penalty for Zambia in the 30th minute and converted Chinkumbe's try in the 33rd minute.

On resumption, Curtis Lilako, Griffin Musila and Johnstone Mung'au scored one try each for Kenya with a change of kickers seeing Anthony Odhiambo land one conversion and two penalties.

Zambia replied with a penalty by Mukosa in the 55th minute and a conversion of Chinkumbe's second try in the 63rd minute. The try by Mung'au came after intense pressure by Kenya inside Zambia's five when he literally crashed over the line from the back row.

False start

In Kampala, Uganda had a false start losing 26-31 to visiting Zimbabwe who now go top of the log with two wins after beating Zambia 39-10 in their opening game.

The two wins has given coach Brendon Dawson a good momentum for the match against Kenya at home at the weekend.

Dawson took over from South African Peter De Villiers who according to the Zimbabwe media had not returned on time to prepare the team for the Victoria Cup tournament which has been revived after seven years following Rugby Africa's inability to secure a sponsor for the Gold Cup this year.

Hilton Mudariki, the Zimbabwe captain was fired up with the away win which saw three debutants; Aiden Burnett, Dudlee White Sharpley and Rufaro Chikwaira included in the squad.

Uganda who has several new players in their outfit had predicted a close match. In an interview with NTV at their final training session, Asuman Mugerwa, the captain was confident that the preparations had gone well.

He was happy with the rotation of players in the squad with a focus on building up for next year's Gold Cup. "There have been changes and several players have merited selection to the final squad," he told NTV.

Ivan Magomu who came off the bench in a 18-38 defeat by Zimbabwe last year during the Gold Cup shared the same sentiments.

Building up for the Gold Cup and future assignments appears to be the theme by all the teams in the Victoria Cup.

​Kenya: Oscar Simiyu (KCB), Toby Francombe (Nondies), Melvin Thairu (Kenya Harlequin FC), Simon Muniafu (Impala), Malcolm Onsando (Quins), Andrew Amonde (KCB), Monate Akuei (Nakuru RFC), Elkeans Musonye (Impala), Samson Onsomu (Impala), Charles Kuka (USIU-A), Billy Odhiambo (Impala), Johnstone Mung'au (Kabras), Peter Kilonzo (KCB), Jacob Ojee (KCB), Anthony Odhiambo (Impala), Griffin Musila (KCB), Patrick Ouko (KCB), Curtis Lilako (KCB), Joseph Shem (Impala), Fidel Oloo (Nondies), Michael Wanjala (KCB) Charles Tendwa (South Coast Pirates), Isaac Njoroge (KCB).​

Zambia: Berthlock Sikaona, Jubilee Chisenga, Patson Kasonde, Mphatso Mwashi, Fine Chinkumbe, Jason Thole, Israel Kalumba, Laston Mukosa, Rogers Mukupa, Edward Mumba, Bwalya Bwalya, Thaddious Chipoya, Vincent Nkole, Elisha Bwalya, Philip Kamanga, Isaac Sakala, Brian Mbalwe, Terry Kaushiku, Gift Kabungo, John Kabwela, Ian Mukupa, Mike Masabo, Chisanga Nkhoma, Nigel Chinese, Lawrence Kaushiku, Enock Mutembo, Mulimbika Mwale, Layson Mulusa, Musenge Bwalya, Larry Kaushiku and Skipper Ali Bhika.

Uganda: ​Santos Ssenteza, Ronald Kanyanya, Asuman Mugerwa (Captain), Charles Uhuru, Robert Aziku, Desire Ayera, Simon Olet, Eliphaz Emong, Paul Epilo​, Ivan Magomu, Paul Masende, Pius Ogena, Michael Wokorach, David Ssemwami, Philip Wokorach. Ivan Kabagambe, Colin Kimbowa, Farago Idugo, Kelvin Balagadde, Michael Otto, Aaron Ofoyrwoth, Eric Mula, Adrian Kasito.

Zimbabwe: Tyran Fagan, Matthew Mandioma, David Makanda , Jan Ferreira (VC), Godfrey Muzanargwo,  Blithe Mavesere, Brian Nyuade, Aiden Burnett, Hilton Mudariki (C), Kuziwakwashe Kazembe, Matthew McNab, Chibuwe Ngoni, Shane Makombe, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Martin Mangongo, Keith Murray, Tatenda Rwenyu, Royal Mwale, Biselele Tshamala, Njabulo Ndlovu, Dudlee White - Sharpley, Rufaro Chikwaira, Takudzwa Chieza, Moses Gunda.