Minnows Kisii are bullish even though they face a baptism by fire when the 2017/2018 Kenya Cup kicks off Saturday in Nairobi, Nakuru and Kakamega.
Kisii make their top flight rugby debut against 2013 and 2014 Kenya Cup champions Nakuru at Nakuru Athletic Club while Mombasa, who last featured in Kenya Cup during 2014/2015 season, take on 10 times champions Impala at the Impala Sports Club ground.
Elsewhere, KCB, who also hold the Enterprise Cup and Floodlit titles, start their Kenya Cup title defence away to Strathmore Leos in Madaraka, while 2016 champions Kabras Sugar hosts Mwamba at the Kakamega Showground.
Kenyatta University's Blak Blad host Nondescripts at the varsity’s grounds, while the match between Homeboyz and Kenya Harlequin has been moved to Tuesday next week at the Jamhuri Park Showground.
Mombasa chairman Ray Dawa said their main target this season is to remain in the top flight league so as to retain most of their players.
“You lose best players when you are relegated and that is what we shall try to avoid,” said Dawa, adding that their main challenge will be travelling since most of their rivals are either in Nairobi, Nakuru or Kakamega.
“We hope our players will be able to get day offs for the game since most are working in Mombasa.”
The Coastal lads, who are handled by Chris Atingo and captained by former Mean Machine eighth man Benjamin Erukan, have signed Henry Omindo, a former Western Bulls front row.
“Impala had a good pre-season unlike us but we are ready for them,” said Dawa.
Impala head coach Frank Ndong’ acknowledged that it is difficult to play against a team which they have never seen play.
“Mombasa are unpredictable. Our approach is playing to our style and getting them to try and respond,” said Ndong’, who has an interesting inclusion to the team Michael Gitau, who is former Strathmore Leo lock.
Kisii chairman Walter Orangi reckons that winning the title is beyond their mean, but said his charges are determined to put up a good show that will see them remain in Kenya Cup.
“We don’t have players everyone knows but it’s a good platform for them to step up and make a name for themselves,” said Orangi.
Kisii have maintained the same squad that won the KRU Championship to earn promotion.
Nakuru v Kisii – Nakuru Athletic Club
Impala Saracens v Mombasa – Impala Club
Kabras Sugar v Mwamba – Kakamega Showground
Strathmore v KCB – Madaraka
Blak Blad v Nondies – Kenyatta University
Homeboyz v Quins – Jamhuri Park