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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya focus on World Cup ticket, target
Namibia scalp in Gold Cup clash

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The performance of Kenya’s national rugby team in Namibia will not dampen its resolution to compete at its inaugural World Cup in Japan in 2019, according to head coach Ian Snook.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, Snook said that while Kenya would love to claim their ticket to the World Cup at the first time of asking through automatic qualification, the team will have a second chance if it fails to beat Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday through the Rugby World Repechage competition in Marseille in November.

The repechage competition will feature Germany, Hong Kong and Canada, with the winner sealing the final spot at next year’s World Cup.

“Our hopes and aspirations are that we play really well and piece together 80 minutes of what has only been seen for 40 or so minutes in the other games. It has been difficult with no warm-up games and going in cold for one-off test matches,” Snook told Xinhua.

The New Zealander has called in Dalmus Chituyi, Felix Ayange and Curtis Lilako to return for Kenya’s final Rugby Africa Gold Cup clash away to Namibia.

Chituyi, the two-try hero in the 45-36 win over Zimbabwe on June 30, missed last weekend’s 67-0 win over Tunisia through injury, along with former Kenya Sevens international Ayange who was recovering from the effects of root canal surgery, while Lilako returns for the first time since the 28-24 win away to Morocco on 23 June.

“The Tunisian game provided a bit of everything which the players will learn from. I’m expecting that the players are ready for an 80 minute effort and are really looking forward to it,” added Snook.

Commenting on their inclusion, the coach said their return would form the steel around which the silk of other players would be wrapped.

“Dallo is in as we have a bigger bench in this game. It has been crucial in a couple of other games with fresh forwards coming on late in the game and making a telling difference. We hope this will be the same. Felix is on the bench as he can cover many positions and is competent in them all. He is a tough competitor and we know he will be up for the physical battle. Biko who usually fills this role is carrying an injury. Curtis is back in so we can utilize his experience and cool head late in the game.” 

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Fit Namibia ready for fast-paced Kenya in final round of Rugby Gold Cup match

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s rugby national team head coach Phil Davies said on Wednesday that his team is looking forward to a big challenge when they face Kenya in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup here on Saturday.

Namibia take on Kenya in the final game of the qualifiers, and Davies told Xinhua that the mood in the Namibian camp is excellent.

“We have great respect for Kenya and we are all very much looking forward to a big challenge come Saturday,” he added.

Asked about the speed the Kenyan team possess, Davies said that quick players are always a threat in any team.

“We have good speed in our team as well, and it’s not about watching specific players, it’s all about Namibia playing as a strong collective unit and matching up to a very talented Kenyan side,” he told Xinhua.

According to Davies, Namibia will not feature many changes from his last squad that beat Zimbabwe, adding that his team’s match fitness is very good.

The Welshman added that the weather conditions in Windhoek on Saturday will be perfect for both teams.

“The pitch will be nice and dry and will favor running rugby. It will be a fantastic occasion and one that African rugby will be proud of, I am sure,” he added.

Other matches on Saturday see Uganda take on Zimbabwe, while Tunisia face Morocco.

The 2018 Gold Cup is pivotal for the African champions, as the tournament doubles as a qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

             

 

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