Sanguine Habimana talks-up Simbas’ World Cup chances


Sanguine Habimana talks-up Simbas' World Cup chances
Ben Ellerman (L) of Germany chases Jacob Ojee of Kenya Simbas during the Tatu City Series test match at the RFUEA Grounds on May 27, 2017. Germany won 30-29. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

In Summary

  • Long serving Kenya Simba assistant coach Dominic Habinama is assertive that the 15-a- side rugby team stands a chance of qualifying for the 2019 rugby World Cup finals if the team tightens IT'Sgrip on its weak areas.
  • Encouraged by the new sense of optimism in the Simba’s dressing room since the appointment of New Zealander Ian Snook as the head coach, and his countryman, Roustlan Murray, as assistant coach, Habimana is confident all will go well as planned ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, which gets underway in June.

Long serving Kenya Simba assistant coach Dominic Habinama is assertive that the 15-a- side rugby team stands a chance of qualifying for the 2019 rugby World Cup finals if the team tightens the grip on its weak areas.

Encouraged by the new sense of optimism in the Simba’s dressing room since the appointment of New Zealander Ian Snook as the head coach, and his countryman, Roustlan Murray, as assistant coach, Habimana is confident all will go well as planned ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, which gets underway in June.

Snook was unveiled as the new Kenya rugby  coach last week and together with his team were immediately tasked with qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Japan.

With the African World Cup qualifiers set to begin in just two months’ time, Habimana and his team led by Snook, have their work clearly out.

In a wide-ranging interview with Citizen Digital, Habimana admits the new head coach has a lot to offer if he is given time to perform his duties .In fact Habimana believes that under Snook’s leadership they’ll build a solid team for the 2019 World Cup qualifiers from the 35-man squad in camp, at the RFUEA grounds.

“We have got something to build on and the best we can do is offer “Snooky” the support he deserves and sooner or later we will achieve our desired goal which is to play at the World Cup.

Though time is fast running out, Habimana believes the depth in the squad will come in handy in the qualification stages.

“The intent and focus now is to qualify for the World Cup which will be the first time for the Simbas. Obviously there is a lot of hard work to go before we play in the qualifiers and it will be pleasing to see players gel easily; this will make work easier for us in executing our style of play,” said Habimana, who has brought in seven new faces to the team.

Kenya Cup winners Peter Waitere and Micheal Wanjala who have been exceptional for their side have put their hands up for selection ahead of the qualifiers.

Waitere, the 25-year-old dynamic head-prop is one of several high-profile players plying their trade with KCB and will be instrumental in this year’s crucial Gold Cup qualifiers.

Coleman Were, Patrick Ouko, Mohamed Omolo, Joseph Odera, Levy Amunga, Johnstone Mung’au and Aggrey Kitoi, are also likely to earn their debut if they make the final cut.

The Simbas (Lions) was only a point shy of qualifying for the last rugby World Cup in England in 2015 but their dreams were cut short by Zimbabwe.

Darwin Mukidza of Kenya Simbas takes a conversion against Germany during their Tatu City Series test match at the RFUEA Grounds on May 27, 2017. German won 30-29. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

A loss to Zimbabwe on match day three in Madagascar resulted in a third-place finish on points’ difference with Zimbabwe and Namibia, with the latter earning the lone qualifying spot. Habimana has memories of that fateful day when he served as  the assistant coach under South African tactician Jerome Paarwater.

“Second place is not what we wanted at the start of the qualifiers and it’s not our position. It was a tough competition to win and we were pleased with what we were able to achieve,” said Habimana.

Habimana will take charge of the forwards while Snook will lead the attacking department as Roulston, who has previously been part of Super Rugby side Highlanders’ coaching staff tightens things in defence.

Kenya will kick off their six-nation African qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup in Morocco on June 23, before hosting Zimbabwe a week later in Nairobi. The other competing nations are big boys Namibia, Tunisia and Uganda.

The tournament winner will automatically qualify for the World Cup in Japan, while the second-placed team will be entered in a runners-up tournament that will involve a team each from America, Asia and Europe, offering them a second chance to qualify.

Gold Cup Fixtures:

June 23

Namibia v Tunisia

Morocco v Kenya

June 30

Kenya v Zimbabwe

Morocco v Namibia

July 7

Kenya v Uganda

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