Can former champions Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) halt Kabras Sugar’s quest for their second consecutive Kenya Cup title?
That is the big question as the anxiety and tension that has been building up for a fortnight hits fever pitch Saturday afternoon when the two giants clash in the 2016/2017 Kenya Cup final at the KCB Ruaraka Sports Club grounds.
The duel that starts at 4pm will be preceded by the play-off for third place between Kenya Harlequin and Homeboyz at 2pm.
KCB coach Curtis Olago has predicted that precision is what will win the duel as he effected only one change to the squad that beat Kenya Harlequin 19-12 in the semi-final a fortnight ago.
Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde, who missed the semi-finals to lead Shujaa at Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens, will replace eighth-man Felix Ojoo, who moves to the bench.
The duo drew 15-15 in the first leg of the regular season before KCB won 22-17 in the return match but Olago reckons that the final will be a different ball game altogether.
KCB are chasing their fifth Cup success after previous wins in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2015.
“We are going to battle them like we have never before…. They might have reached the final in the last three seasons but that doesn’t worry us since we shall stick to our game plan,” declared Olago. “We are thinking about what we shall offer our fans.”
Olago said that they have learnt from their previous mistakes that saw them relinquish the title to Kabras Sugar last season, having beaten the sugar millers 27-3 during the 2014/2015 final.
WON MAIDEN TITLE
Last season, Kabras Sugar edged out Impala 22-5 in the final to lift their maiden title.
“Besides the many injuries, we were poor in execution in some departments owing to transition period where we had players joining from Eric Shirley Shield,” said Olago. “It has taken them almost two seasons to reach the final.”
Kabras Sugar head coach Anthony Ogot has brought back Ugandan international Philip Wokorach and Brian Tanga at full-back and left wing respectively, replacing Felix Ayange and Peter Nakarawa.
While Ayange moves to right wing, Nakarawa is out completely alongside Kevin Kabole, who played on the right wing during Kabras’ 22-17 victory against Homeboyz in the semis. Tanga and prop Joseph Odero, who has replaced Hillary Odhiambo, start on the bench.
Fijian stars Jone Kubu, who proved a gem with his kicking that spurred his team to victory against Homeboyz in the semis, remains at fly-half.
“The changes are tactical as we aim to counter KCB’s strengths,” said Ogot. “We are also going for total rugby and the team that commits less mistakes and use their ball possession well shall carry the day.” “One small mistake will prove costly.”
Amonde leads the bankers’ strong forward line that has skipper Curtis Lilako, Moses Amusala, George Asin, Oliver Mang’eni and Davis Chenge among others while the sugar millers have skipper and hooker Max Adaka, Hillary Mwanjilwa, Geoffrey Messo, Lekima Kuidraki and Fidel Oloo.
Kubu will have Ken Moseti to check at fly-half with Wokorach and KCB’s Darwin Mukidza set for a showdown at full-back.
Both sides have rich benches with Dan Sikuta, Sava Racigi, Ivan Chirabu and Tanga on Kabras’ side while the bankers have Peter Kaaria, Martin Owila, Marlin Mukolwe and Felix Ojow.
Constant Cap will be the man in charge of final assisted by Victor Oduor and Moses Ndung’u while Gregory Sang is the Television Match Official.
1. Hillary Manjilwa, 2. Max Adaka, 3. Dan Mwangi, 4. Geoffrey Messo, 5. George Nyambua, 6. Levy Ochieng, 7. Fidel Oloo, 8. Lekima Kuidraki, 9. Edwn Achayo, 10. Jone Kubu, 11. Felix Ayange, 12. Nick Barasa, 13. Perminus Macharia, 14. Malik Habil, 15. Philip Wokorach.
1.Amusala Moses, 2. Asin George, 3. Lilako Curtis, 4. Ongeri Nick, 5. Mangeni Oliver, 6. Chenge Davis, 7. Waitere Peter, 8. Amonde Andrew, 9. Wanjala Michael, 10. Moseti Ken, 11. Ojee Jacob, 12. Kilonzo James, 13. Kilonzo Peter, 14. Ochieng Arthur, 15. Mukidza Darwin
16. Karia Peter, 17. Simiyu Oscar, 18. Nyandat Nelson, 19. Owilah Martin, 20. Ojow Felix, 21. Mukolwe Marlin, 22. Shaban Ahmed, 23. Omondi Brian
Saturday’s order of play
Kenya Cup final
Kabras Sugar v KCB-Ruaraka (4pm)
Play-off- Quins v Homeboyz (2pm)
Eric Shirley Shield Final
Resolution Impala Saracens II v KCB II –USIU (1pm)
KRU Championship Final
Resolution Kisii v Mombasa - Kenyatta University (1pm)