World Cup dream a reality, says Kenya Simbas coach Odera
The three matches his team has had so far in South Africa have given Kenya Simbas coach Paul Odera hope that his dream of seeing his side play at the 2023 World Cup in France is not a mirage.
The Simbas have won one and lost two of their matches so far in South Africa and Odera says they have been learning curves as he seeks to further sharpen his side for next year’s qualification matches.
The Simbas started their tour of South Africa with a heavy 85-17 loss at the hands of the Currie Cup’s selected best team and then lost to rivals Namibia in the Stellenbosch Cup, going down 60-24 despite leading at halftime.
They however atoned for the two losses with a hard earned 36-30 victory over Brazil in their penultimate match over the weekend.
“This is a fantastic win for us against Brazil. We really played well but also credit to Brazil for coming out with a good fight and pushed us to the edge. We were lucky in the second half and at some point I feared a repeat of what happened against Namibia. But credit to the players because they stuck to it and ensured we saw off the victory,” said the coach.
He added; “The World Cup dream is very much alive. With this team spirit and resilience then we are unstoppable in our journey towards France 2023. This game and victory against Brazil gave us a lift and we are now looking towards improving further.”
The qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup will be staged in France, as confirmed by Rugby Afrique next year. Kenya progressed to the Rugby Afrique Cup after finishing second in the second round qualifiers staged in Nairobi early this year.
For the Rugby Afrique Cup, Kenya has been drawn against rivals and neighbors Uganda in the first round matches. A win will take them to the semi-finals where they will face either Senegal or Algeria.
Senegal beat the Simbas 20-19 in Nairobi in the second round.
On the other side of the chart, Namibia faces Burkina Faso with Zimbabwe playing Ivory Coast. The winners of the two ties will face each other in the semis.
The winner of the eight-team straight knockout competition will advance to the World Cup while the losing finalist will have a second qualification chance with the repechage tournament played in the same format.
Against the Brazilians, Fijian born Jones Kubu was the star of the show once again as he played a crucial role in the Simbas victory.
It was the Brazilians who chalked in the first points of the game when they booted home two penalties, before Kubu responded for Kenya in similar fashion to take the scores to 6-3.
Kubu was once again at hand to dot down the first try of the game and went on to convert, just after Brazil had also grounded one. The Simbas were now more confident and they gained the lead when John Okoth crossed over, but Kubu’s conversion was wide.
But, a slight lapse in concentration handed Brazil their third penalty of the game which they converted to lead 16-15.
But Odera’s men ensured they went to the break tails up when Vincent Onyala dotted down a superb try, slaloming past the Brazilian backline to dot down with Kubu adding the twos as Simbas led 22-16 at the break.
Just like it happened against Namibia, Kenya got bac to a flailing start in the second half with Brazil once again knocking off points from two penalty tries that pushed the score to 30-22 for the Brazilians.
However, a counter attack from the Simbas backline resulted in Samuel Asati going over the whitewash. Kubu’s conversion pushed the tie to a one-point game before another converted try handed the Kenyan side victory.
Meanwhile, The Simbas will wind up their three-week tour of South Africa with a clash against Spanish side, Diables Barcelona on Thursday.