Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ambaka: We can win Las Vegas

Kenya’s Willy Ambaka (left) is tackled by England’s Christian Lewis-Pratt during the Wellington Sevens Cup final last weekend. Action moves to Las Vegas this weekend. Photo/AFP.

Kenya’s Willy Ambaka (left) is tackled by England’s Christian Lewis-Pratt during the Wellington Sevens Cup final last weekend. Action moves to Las Vegas this weekend. Photo/AFP.  NATION

By AUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com

Kenya’s new try scoring machine William “Lomu” Ambaka believes the team has come of age and is now capable of winning a world title.

“Beating South Africa and New Zealand for the first time since 2009 was a feeling I couldn’t explain but it’s something I can’t wait to feel again,” said Ambaka, adding that they had rested and did a recovery session after the long trip.

“We are ready and with great lessons from Wellington that have made us trust the system and have self belief.”

Kenya Sevens open their quest for USA Sevens title against Canada Friday from 6.44 pm, local time in Las Vegas (3.44am Saturday Kenyan) time).

The Kenyans will then take on Uruguay at 9.40pm (6.40am Saturday Kenyan time) before wrapping up their group assignment against continental rivals South Africa Saturday at 1.50pm (12.50am-Sunday Kenyan time).
Feels good scoring

Ambaka said they were capable of winning in Las Vegas going by the hard work they had put in over the last six months.

“Personally, it feels good scoring almost in every match.”

Kenya enter the three-day Las Vegas leg of the IRB Sevens World Series ranked an astonishing second in the world standings with 56 point, behind perennial champions New Zealand on 77.

Kenya reached its second IRB World Series final at Wellington Sevens last weekend before losing to England 24-19 in sudden death, following victories against South Africa and New Zealand 21-20 and 19-14 in the quarterfinal and semi-finals respectively.

Kenya lifted the Plate at last year’s USA Sevens after beating Argentina 21-7 in the final in the only leg where they reached the main Cup last season.

Head coach Mike Friday noted that his boys were gaining in self belief and had taken great confidence for crossing the sometimes hard to pin mental barrier in sports after beating South Africa and New Zealand.

However, Friday cautioned his charges saying Las Vegas won’t be a bed of roses.

“Canada are hugely physical and impressive and were unlucky not to be in the Cup in Wellington. It’s a narrower pitch so that will be a titanic contest for us”

“South Africa will want revenge for last week and have a few players back so they will be tough.”

Order of play: Friday (Saturday Kenyan time - Las Vegas is 11 hours behind Kenya):

3.00am England vs. Fiji; 3.22am Scotland vs. Portugal; 3.44am Kenya vs. Canada; 4.06am South Africa vs. Uruguay; 4.28am New Zealand vs. France; 4.50am Argentina vs. Wales; 5.12am Samoa vs. Spain; 5.34am Australia vs. United States; 5. 56am England vs. Portugal; 6.18am Scotland vs. Fiji; 6.40am Kenya vs. Uruguay; 7.02am South Africa vs. Canada; 7.24am New Zealand vs. Wales; 7.46am Argentina vs. France; 8.08am Australia vs. Spain; 8.30am Samoa vs. United States. Tomorrow: (Saturday/Sunday Kenyan time): 11:00pm Fiji vs. Portugal; 11:22pm Canada vs Uruguay; 11:44pm France vs. Wales; 12:06am Samoa vs. Australia; 12:28am England vs. Scotland; 12:50am Kenya vs. South Africa; 1.00am New Zealand vs. Argentina; 1:34am Spain vs United States.
Friday said they will not underestimate Uruguay since it’s a side that has same ethos and heart as the Argentinean team that they beat in the preliminaries in Wellington.

“They are capable of beating anyone hence the need to focus on the first challenge which is Canada and we can then build from there,” said Friday.

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