Kenya coach Simiyu: Uganda under pressure to retain rugby 7s Africa Cup


NAIROBI, Oct. 10 -- Kenya's head coach Innocent Simiyu says Uganda are under pressure to retain the Africa Cup men's rugby sevens title, which will be contested this weekend in Monatsir, Tunisia.

A total of 12 teams are in contention for the trophy. Champions Uganda will put their title on the line against strong opposition from hosts Tunisia, as well as Kenya, Morocco, Botswana, Senegal, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Madagascar, Namibia and Zambia.

Kenya held their final training session on Tuesday before departing for Tunisia on Wednesday, and Simiyu wants to walk away from the side when his contract expires on October 31 with a trophy in hand. Simiyu will be replaced by Paul Murunga ahead of the World Series circuit, which starts in December in Dubai.

In Tunisia, Kenya are set to play Morocco and Botswana in pool matches, as they seek to win a cup they most recently won in 2016 when they beat Zimbabwe in South Africa.

"I know technically or physically we may be a bit better than most teams, but of course they have prepared, so we will leave no stone unturned and give our best," Simiyu told reporters in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The coach added, "There is more pressure on Uganda as the defending champions. For us we are just happy to be there, we just want to express ourselves, we have a lot of new blood coming in, we want to see how they will play, how they will respond to that level, and hopefully we can get a good result."

Simiyu said that Herman Humwa and Michael Wanjala would captain Kenya in Tunisia.

"Training has been difficult, we had little time to prepare, but the key thing is the boys are up to play physically, so we are quite happy and we hope we will have a good outing."

A number of those set to represent Kenya's sevens team in Tunisia were selected from the recently-concluded national sevens circuit, with this set to be their first international outing.

"They have a lot of excitement. You have to understand, it's their story. For most of them, their journey has just begun, so it's just doing small things well, going up there, expressing themselves and building up from there, and hopefully getting some good results for the team," added Simiyu.

The 2017 Africa Sevens Cup was used as a qualifier for the World Cup Sevens held in San Francisco in July this year. Kenya did not participate, having already qualified by virtue of making the World Cup semifinals back in 2013.

"I think the Africa Sevens circuit is quite good. We have more regional tournaments to help the game grow, because for Kenya to remain in the top tier, we need to be having some formidable competitions back at home and in the region. We are also happy to have this chance to use our young players at this level," said Simiyu.

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