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Colombia in World Cup qualifier of Kenya Lionesses

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Kenya Lionesses face Colombia in World Cup qualifier

Kenya Lionesses face Colombia in World Cup qualifier

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Eighty minutes stand in the way of the Kenya Lionesses’ ambition to get into the next step in qualifying for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, when they take on Colombia in a Repecharge qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.

Victory for the Lionesses over the South Americans will earn them a ticket to the World Cup.

The match had been initially scheduled for April last year but was re-arranged twice due to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now, the Kenyans will look forward with optimism despite suffering four defeats before Wednesday afternoon’s game. The Lionesses have lost back to back matches against Madagascar, but this was due to the fact that most of the players were in Tokyo for the Olympic Games in the shorter version of the game.

They the played twice against South Africa last week, losing both matches but with a better performance in the second game where most of the girls who had played at the Olympics were fielded.

Head coach Felix Oloo will pick positives from the second match which they lost in fine margins with a last minute converted try.

Lionesses Shebesh Okello

Kenya Lionesses’ Janet Okello in action against New Zealand

“The first test was all about getting new players in the system and preparing them to take up their positions in the near future. It was really good for them to have the feeling of being a national team player and to get an understanding of what test rugby is like,” explained Oloo.

“For the second test we tried to balance out the two sides and it came out very well.

“The mindset beforehand was perhaps that this is a big team, this is the Springboks … we can’t beat them. But that has disappeared now. They got a lot of confidence from the game; they now know that anything is possible.

“We lost our heads in the last 10 minutes and had we taken our chances, we believe we’d have won the game. Sadly, our finishing wasn’t on-point and we also had issues with our kicking patterns.”

Ahead of this game against Colombia, Oloo will hope that the team has picked the right lessons and are better built to ensure victory at home.

lionesses pix 1

If successful, Kenya will compete with sides from Europe, Asia and Oceania (Samoa) for the last ticket to Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, which has been rescheduled for next year.

“Getting beaten (by South Africa) was probably a blessing in disguise because it creates more hunger amongst the players leading up to the Colombia game which is the one that we have to win,” Oloo said.

“We believe we are moving in the right direction.”

Colombia are physically bigger but if Kenya can match them upfront, the athleticism of their sevens players could be the deciding factor.

“They have very big forwards so we are working hard to see how we can neutralise them in this area and use that to our advantage,” Oloo said.

“We know their strengths and they know our strengths as well and both of us are working hard to see who can out-smart the other. We are going all out to play our very best until the final whistle,” the coach added.

Ahead of the game though, the tactician has been dealt a blow with star players Cynthia Camilla and Cheila Chajira missing out after picking injuries in South Africa.

The absence of the two has forced the tactician to make changes to his team.

Sinaida Nyachio, Sinaida Aura and Enid Ouma are the three notable changes form the team that played South Africa in their last match. Nyachio slots in at fullback with Aura featuring in a tactical change on the wing as Enid Ouma starts in the back-row replacing Chajira.

Janet Okello, who started the last test at fullback, moves to outside center to replace injured Camila and pairing up in midfield with Philadelphia Olando.

Lionesses squad to face Colombia:

15.Sinaida Nyachio, 14. Sinaida Aura, 13. Janet Okello, 12. Philadelphia Olando, 11.Christabel Lindo, 10.Grace Adhiambo, 9. Judith Auma, 1.Juliet Nyambura (capt), 2. Staycy Atieno, 3. Evelyne Kalemera, 4. Bernadette Olesia, 5. Peruce Muyuka, 6. Mitchelle Akinyi, 7. Enid Ouma, 8. Leah Wambui.

REPLACEMENTS 16. Knight Otwoma, 17. Mercy Migongo, 18. Rose Otieno, 19. Naomi Amuguni, 20. Laureen Akoth, 21. Faith Marindany, 22. Sarah Oluche, 23. Moreen Muritu

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