Simbas to regroup for final stab at World Cup slot


The Kenya Simbas Head Coach Ian Snook shakes hands with Biko Adema. (PHOTO/Sportpicha)
The Kenya Simbas Head Coach Ian Snook shakes hands with Biko Adema. (PHOTO/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • The national rugby fifteens side Simbas are expected to resume training on Monday as they embark on their final attempt at securing a 2019 Rugby World Cup berth at the Repechage competition in Marseille, France
  • Coach Ian Snook’s charges missed out on a direct qualification following their 53-28 loss to Namibia who eventually claimed the slot after topping the overall Rugby Africa Gold Cup standings as Simbas settled for second place

The national rugby fifteens side Simbas are expected to resume training on Monday as they embark on their final attempt at securing a 2019 Rugby World Cup berth at the Repechage competition in Marseille, France.

Coach Ian Snook’s charges missed out on a direct qualification following their 53-28 loss to Namibia who eventually claimed the slot after topping the overall Rugby Africa Gold Cup standings as Simbas settled for second place.

Despite the chastening defeat, assistant coach Dominique Habimana is positive his players will keep their focus when they return to camp ahead of the November 11-23 playoff competitions.

“We’re planning to get them together after the two weeks break, and get to reflect on the Namibia loss, that will be the point of reference as we reorganize ourselves and strategize for the last chance to qualify for the World Cup,” Habimana told Citizen Digital.

Habimana added the management is planning on arranging a trip to South Africa for the players on a high intensity training program and get to play Currie Cup sides as they look to polish certain key areas.

“Once the government and the involved stakeholders fund us with the required finances of 30 million required for the repechange preparations then our first stop over should be in South Africa to work on our scrummaging and line outs which were our greatest undoing during the Gold Cup final loss,” Habimana underscored.

He also hinted that they are looking at reinforcing the team with a few Kenya Sevens players after a stellar performance by Shujaa ace Willy Ambaka at the just concluded Africa Gold Cup.

“Yes we are looking at adding a few names from the Shujaa squad once the local circuit is complete and see how they can blend together as a unit and assist us and hopefully we can work easily towards achieving our goal to qualify for the World Cup.

The repechange test will be even harder for the Snook led charges with the unpredictable Canada, Germany and the fast rising Hong Kong also fighting for the last ticket to Japan.

While in France, the Simbas will duel against Canada, Hong Kong and Germany in a round robin competition for the remaining ticket and a berth in Pool B alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia.

However despite the huge task ahead Habimana believes they can come out victorious and better.

“We have been handed one lifeline bullet and hopefully we can skin them all three at a go, so don’t lose hope on us,” he added.

Simbas have been seeded third for the repechange competition based on their current global ranking of position 28 while Hong Kong , ranked 21st globally, are top seeds with Canada (23) seeded second and Germany (29) seeded fourth.

The other competing teams namely Canada qualified for this competition after failing to qualify from the Americas region, Germany fell to a playoff defeat against Samoa while Hong Kong qualified for the repechage after a historic win over the Cook Islands.

Kenya will kick off their repechage campaign with a clash against Canada on Sunday 11 November before playing familiar antagonist Hong Kong on Saturday 17 November and Germany on Friday 23 November.

Fixtures

Sunday, November 11

Hong Kong v Germany – 4.00pm

Canada v Kenya – 6.30pm

Saturday 17 November 2018

Hong Kong v Kenya – 4.00pm

Canada v Germany – 6.30pm

Friday, November 23

Kenya v Germany – 8.00pm

Hong Kong v Canada – 10.30pm

*All times in EAT

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