alexa Lionesses plot major upset for World Cup slot - Daily Nation

Lionesses plot major upset for World Cup slot

Saturday August 17 2019

Kenya's Sheilla Chajira cuts through the Papua New Guinea defence on day one of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong on April 4, 2019. PHOTO | WORLD RUGBY |

Kenya's Sheilla Chajira cuts through the Papua New Guinea defence on day one of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong on April 4, 2019. PHOTO | WORLD RUGBY |  

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
More by this Author

Kenya Lionesses' moment of reckoning beckons on Saturday when they face giants South Africa in the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament where winner takes it all.

The winning side in the match that will take place at Bosman Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa will book their place in the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.

The team that comes second will face a side from South America, with the winner going into the 2020 Repechage qualifying tournament.

Uganda and Madagascar will meet in the first match at 2pm to decide the third-placed team with the Springbok Women taking on Kenya at 4pm.

The Springbok Women and Lionesses are both unbeaten having won their first two matches with bonus points.

The hosts, however, boast a superior points difference after registering convincing 89-5 and 73-0 victories against Uganda and Madagascar.

Advertisement

The Lionesses chalked 37-5 and 35-5 victories against Uganda Lady-Cranes and Madagascar respectively.

Lionesses coach Felix Oloo said that they have had good preparations but his charges are not under pressure, having made several changes to the squad that beat Uganda.

“This is a final which will be treated with respect it deserves,” said Oloo, who is confident of staging an upset against Springboks women. “They are a strong side with good players but we are out to stop them at their backyard.”

Oloo has tight-head prop Imogen Hooper and second row Bernadette Olesia back in the starting line-up after taking a rest against Uganda with Millicent Opala going to the bench.

Backs Veronica Wanjiku and Sheila Chajira will get to start after coming off the bench against Uganda.

Springbok women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer is wary of the threat posed by Kenya and has made a few changes to the team that stamped their authority in the opening two matches.

The two changes to Raubenheimer’s starting team see Nqobile Mhlangu replace the injured Ayanda Malinga on the wing, while Sizophila Solontsi comes in at flanker for Lusanda Dumke, who moves to the bench in a rotational switch.

The other change is the inclusion of the versatile Vuyolwethu Maqolo, who fills the void left by Mhlangu on the bench.

“One of the changes were injury-enforced as Ayanda picked up a shoulder injury against Madagascar, and I felt that Lusanda has played a lot of rugby this year, so we decided to give Sizophila a chance in the starting team,” Raubenheimer told www.springbok.rugby. “She has been working hard and deserves an opportunity to start.”

Raubenheimer insists Kenya cannot be underrated despite his charges being favourites. “They stated that they are coming here to qualify for the World Cup, so we are expecting them to deliver good set pieces and move the ball around. Hopefully we can counter whatever they throw at us, and be successful in doing so.”

Raubenheimer, however, was confident that if his team stuck to their structures, they could qualify for the international showpiece. “It will be important to dominate territory and possession, and be accurate in the execution of the game plan we have for them. If we do that well, I think things will go well for us.”

Besides Africa, other regional qualifying tournaments will be held in Oceania, Europe, Asia and South America, before a final Repechage that will take place in 2020.

The top seven teams from Rugby World Cup 2017 - champions and 2021 hosts New Zealand, England, United States, France, Canada, Australia and Wales - have already secured automatic qualification.

Fixture

Madagascar v Uganda 2pm
South Africa v Kenya 4pm

Advertisement