Shujaa eye medal finish at Commonwealth Games
- Shujaa have been pooled with Uganda and Jamaica
- They are targeting to finish among the medals this year
- They reached the Cup quarters in 2018
The national men’s rugby team, Shujaa, is targeting a podium finish at this year’s Commonwealth Games after missing out in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018.
Shujaa begin their campaign in Birmingham on Friday and have been drawn in Pool D with neighbours Uganda, Jamaica and Australia. They start off against Uganda before facing Jamaica and victories in these two matches will assure them of a place in the Main Cup Quarters.
The team has had a month-long residential training camp in Nairobi at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani before travelling to Birmingham where they have already had three training sessions to acclimatize and get their mental side ready.
“We had a very good training in Nairobi in very good conditions and coach Kimani (Geoffrey) has done really well and a lot of work to get them up in shape. We have come here as a ready team and the training has just been about polishing,” said coach Damian McGrath.
He added; “We have worked a lot on the skills and the game understanding and I feel we are in a good place. We are picking up ability and we are almost there now.”
Primary target is Cup Quarters
McGrath says the team’s primary target is to get out of the group stages and qualify for the Cup quarters and this will need them to win at least two matches with Uganda and Jamaica up on the plate first.
“When you get to the knockout, it is anybody’s game and you can surprise even the big teams. We want to give ourselves a chance at the medals but first we need to get out into the Cup quarters and that is why the matches on Friday are very important for us,” said the coach.
His sentiments are shared by skipper Nelson Oyoo who said; “As a team we have our targets ready. First we want to get to the Cup quarters and from there we are one match away from the reality of a medal.”
“The team is ready and everyone is focused. Of course there is a bit of pressure but once we ensure our systems are working, we will be good to go,” he added.
Shujaa start off against Uganda on Friday afternoon, a match that will be key in putting them into the right gears. Already, they have lost against the Rugby Cranes in the Africa Cup this year and they will be out to not only exert revenge but also make a statement win.
Watched the game on tape
“I watched the game on tape because I was not yet here and the conditions were not good. I hope the conditions will be better this time round but also, it will not be an easy match because this is a local rivalry,”
“There are plenty of surprises in rugby sevens and we will not be taking any team lightly. We cannot underrate anyone,” coach McGrath added.
A win against Uganda will put them in good motion and another against Jamaica in their second match of the day will earn them a Cup Quarters spot.