By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua)
-- Kenya’s 15’s head coach Ian Snook
faces an injury crisis in his camp with six players unfit to
train ahead of their final two games in the Rugby Africa Gold
Cup clash against Tunisia and Namibia in August.
Kenya does not play
until Aug 11 against Tunisia, but team manager Wangila Simiyu
confirmed that several players are carrying knocks and long-term
injuries which may throw a spanner in the works for the coach as
he looks to guide Kenya to its first World Cup appearance in
Japan in 2019.
Winger Tony Onyango,
Leo Seje, Wilson K’Opondo, Vincent Mose and Philip Ikambili are
all doubtful for the assignment as the team starts its
residential training camp in Nanyuki on Thursday.
“The injuries are
part of any team and ours must find a way to overcome them. We
are certain to lose a few players, but what is important is to
have stronger replacements as the two matches are critical in
deciding if Kenya will qualify for the World Cup,” said Simiyu
on Thursday in Nairobi.
suffered a shoulder injury while his colleague Seje has not
shaken off a toe injury, which he picked up in June in Morocco.
Both players are not
expected to be fit for the assignment against Tunisia in Nairobi
(Aug 11) and Namibia away in Windhoek (Aug 18).
The team manager
also poured cold water on the availability of team captain
K’Opondo saying he is not likely to play again until November.
This even rules him out of the repechage tournament, should
Kenya finish second to Namibia in the Gold Cup and miss
automatic qualification to the World Cup as Africa
multiple injuries and will require time to heal and get over
them. Fullback Vincent Mose and hooker Phillip Ikambili have
slim chances of fighting their way back into the team having
recovered fully, but lacking match fitness. Mose got injured in
Nairobi in June playing against Uganda, while Ikimbili, just
like Seje, was left in the medical chambers in Casablanca after
Kenya beat Morocco in June.
Kenya is placed
second with 12 points in the Gold Cup behind Namibia who scored
bonus points with huge wins in their three matches.
The winner of the
group gets the automatic ticket to the World Cup in 2019 in
Japan while the last team will be dropped to the Silver Cup,
whose winner Zambia has already secured promotion to the top
tier league next season.
Should Kenya win
against Tunisia, they will have secured a top-two finish and a
chance to play at either the finals in Japan (if they beat
Namibia a week later) or take the repechage route to play
Canada, Germany and Hong Kong in November in Marseille, France.
Unlike previous repechages, the four teams will play in a
round-robin format with the winner claiming the ticket to Japan.