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Kenya turns focus on repechage tourney for rugby World Cup ticket

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s 15s team will weather the storm and qualify for its maiden World Cup despite missing out on the automatic Africa ticket to rivals Namibia.

Head coach Ian Snook regrets losing his first game since taking over in February, but remained adamant that his mission to guide the team to its inaugural World Cup in Japan in 2019 is still attainable.

“I have great pride in the team. They have shown their ability and gave everything despite losing to Namibia 53-28. Nobody can question their commitment. We lost our shape a bit in decision making and played much into their hands, but we gave absolutely everything on the pitch,” coach Snook said Wednesday in Nairobi.

The East African nation will now have to rebuild and face losers from three other regions Germany (Europe), Canada (Americas) and Hong Kong, China (Asia) for the four-team repechage tournament in Marseille, France in Nov. Kenya has played against both Germany and Hong Kong, China posting mixed results.

They drew and lost to Germany in two games and have similar result against Hong Kong, China. However, it will be the first time the three teams will be facing Canada. The winner of the repechage will fill the final slot in the 24 teams for the World Cup.

Snook, however, wants the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) to organize friendly matches with top teams to help sharpen his side prior to traveling to Marseille.

The team had planned to have a week-long high-performance training camp in South Africa, but it was not possible due to a cash crunch.

“These teams requires high level performance against top teams to produce good results. To be better we need to have more games because I look at these boys everyday and I am sure they have what it takes to play at the high level, we are only let down by the lack of preparedness,” added the coach.

Team captain Davis Chenge said his side will put behind their troubles and focus on making history as the first side from Kenya to clinch a ticket to the World Cup.

“I believe with good preparations we will be able to compete for a place. It is a tough tournament yes, but the boys are really psyched to go for it. We will work on our mistakes and by the time we get to the repechage, we will be better,” he said.

             

 

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