Kenya Sevens head coach Paul Feeney has hailed his team’s astute defence and attack that saw them prevail against their continental rivals in South Africa to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Oscar Dennis scored two of Kenya’s five tries to see them crush Uganda Cranes 31-0 at the Bosman Stadium to qualify for the Olympics and also recapture the Africa Cup title.
Kenya, who led 14-0 at the break, touched down five tries and three conversions for their second Olympic Summer Games after their appearance at Rio 2016 where rugby returned after 92 years.
Feeney said the qualifier was won back in Kenya where the team went through 11 weeks of hard work, determination and discipline.
“Good defence and attack just complemented the work we did in Nairobi where Safari Sevens victory brought in confidence,” said Feeney. “We scored many points and only conceded four tries in six games...its feels good for the boys and the country.”
Kenya beat Cote D'Ivoire 36-7 in the qualifying round before dispatching Senegal 50-0, Namibia 33-0 and Uganda 24-7 in Pool “B” outing. They then dispatched Madagascar 40-14 in the semi-finals before whacking Uganda again 31-0 in the final for the fifth Africa Cup Sevens title.
Kenya had last won the diadem in 2015 while Uganda lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2017 before Zimbabwe in 2018.
WORK IN PROGRESS
However, Feeney said they still have a lot of work to do ahead of the start of the 2019/20 World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai on December 5-7 and Cape Town on December 13-15 respectively.
“We need to improve basically on everything- our ball handling, set-pieces, conditioning, attack and defence ahead of the Series,” said Feeney.
Shujaa have been handed South Africa, England and Spain in Pool “D” in Dubai.
Zimbabwe edged out Madagascar 24-7 to claim bronze in the play-off.
Zimbabwe will now team up with Uganda at the Repechage in June next year for another opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Kenya Sevens join automatic qualifiers South Africa for the Olympics. Blitzebokke qualified after they finished in top four during the 2018/19 World Rugby Series.
The top four teams upon the completion of the 2018/19 World Rugby Series were guaranteed a place at the Olympics hence avoiding the continental and Repechage qualifiers. Others are Fiji, who are the 2016 Rio Olympics champions, United States and New Zealand.
Skipper Andrew Amonde opened the assault on Uganda after he cashed in on a penalty at the 22 metre zone before slicing through the middle to land.
Daniel Taabu would convert before finished off a thrilling exchange between Vincent Onyala and Johnstone Olindi with a second try. Taabu added the extras for a 14-0 lead at the drinks.
Another beautiful interchange of passes between Amonde and his deputy Jeff Oluoch resulted in the third try by Oluoch with Taabu curling over the conversion for a 21-0 lead.
Substitutes Oscar Dennis and Billy Odhiambo were a joy to watch. Odhiambo, who was making a return to Kenya Sevens after a season, weaved through the middle before he offloaded to Dennis from a tackle to score.
Dennis claimed a turnover in Uganda’s 22m zone to complete his brace of tries for the victory. Kenya Sevens join their women’s team Kenya Lionesses for the Tokyo Summer Games.
Alvin Otieno scored a brace of tries as Kenya Sevens crushed Madagascar 40-14 in the semi-finals. Kenya had trailed Madagascar twice before tying the duel 14-14 at the break, put up a brilliant second half display to dispatch the Indian ocean islanders.
Nelson Oyoo, Vincent Onyala, Daniel Taabu and Bush Mwale scored Kenya’s other tries as Taabu and Johnstone Olindi converted two tries each against Madagascar. Onyala managed one conversion.