Kenya Sevens might have signalled their return to winning ways at the 2019-2020 World Rugby Sevens Series with an unbeaten group matches run at Cape Town Sevens, but it is Homeboyz winger Alvin Otieno, who has been a revelation.
Kenya beat Samoa 24-19 on Friday before edging out Australia 12-7 in a tense encounter Saturday to set up a Group “D” decider match against Ireland later that evening. It ended 24-24 to secure Shujaa their first Cup quarter-finals of the season.
And one man has been in the thick of things for this exciting Kenyan side
Otieno, who has been nicknamed “Buffalo” or simply “Buffa”, has been the talk of the Series with his ball carrying ability and sheer physicality that has left man a defender sprawled on the ground.
The 26-year-old has shown an eye for the try, good vision to set up team mates and love for the physical battle, a hallmark of the game.
The Kakamega High School old boy landed Kenya’s fourth try for a 24-17 lead against Ireland
Johnstone Olindi latched on the restart ball before putting Otieno through on the flank. In what has become his trademark, Otieno gave an Irish defender a hand-off before cantering to the try line.
Otieno exploits added to tries by skipper Andrew Amonde, who was sin-binned for a late tackle, Vincent Onyala and Johnstone Olindi. Daniel Taabu made two conversions.
But the red-hot Ireland fought back to draw level at the death of a pulsating game and clinch the group on superior points aggregate.
Ireland had earlier stunned Australia and Samoa 26-21 and 28-14 respectively.
The result was enough for Kenya, to qualify for their second Cup quarters appearance in two seasons, having made only one in Paris last season.
Otieno, who made his Kenya Sevens and World Rugby Series debut at the 2016 Hong Kong Sevens, was again at the centre of the action in the victory against Australia, scoring one of Kenya’s two tries.
The rampaging “Buffalo”, deep inside his half, gave an Australian defender a smashing hand-off before quickly shifting up the gears to race for the try box.
On Friday, the explosive Otieno made his presence known when he tore into Samoa’s territory, swatting defenders to the ground at will or dragging them along his devastating runs.
The rest of the gang quickly fed off his destructive path finding gaps in the disorganised defence of the opposition to score.
“Buffa was destine for greatness when I plucked him from Western Bulls in 2014 to Homeboyz,” said Homeboyz former coach Paul “Pau” Murunga.
He described Otieno as a humble and disciplined player. “His energy levels are always up and he is always the happiest player even in morning runs. He always motivate players,” said Murunga.