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New coach Wambua names Shujaa squad for Olympic qualifier

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Head coach Kevin Wambua (centre) with captains Vincent Onyala (left) and Tony Omondi (right)
Head coach Kevin Wambua (centre) with captains Vincent Onyala (left) and Tony Omondi (right)
  • The 2024 Olympic qualification tournament is scheduled for Zimbabwe
  • Kenya will face Nigeria, Namibia and Zambia in the pools
  • The winner of the tournament qualifies for the Olympics

Newly appointed Shujaa head coach Kevin ‘Bling’ Wambua will get into his first assignment this weekend, when he leads out the team for the Olympic Qualification tournament at the Africa 7s Championship in Zimbabwe.

The tactician has named his travelling squad that heads out to Southern Africa, seeking a ticket for the Olympic Games for a third consecutive time.

Wambua has named six regulars in his 12-man travelling squad, with the rest being newbies. Among the regulars who have made the cut include Vincent Onyala, who has made a return to the national team after missing out over the last few assignments. He had been ruled out through injury and has now been named co-captain of the team, alongside Tony Omondi.

Meanwhile, Samuel Asati and Beldad Ogeta who have been capped by Kenya at test level, Daystar Falcons flier Patrick Odongo as well as Kabras Sugar’s William Mwanji, Strathmore Leos’ Nygel Amaitsa and Festus Shiasi from KCB have all been handed their first ever call ups to the sevens team.

Good preparations for the team

Officials from teh Kenya Rugby Union with the Shujaa technical bench and captains

“We’ve had good preparations. We’ve had two back to back camps where we’ve taken the time to set our foundation on how we want to play. There are a few things we really wanted to improve and the camps were quite helpful. We are very grateful to St. Andrews’ Turi and look forward to more of that in the future,” Wambua said after naming his squad.

He added; “The boys have responded well to our training sessions and I believe we are in a very good place for the qualifiers. We want to take a game at a time and play every game like a final. We have to get out of the pool stage first. We want to be in a position that sees us top the pool at the close of day one and embark on the quarters. The boys believe they can go all the way.”

Commenting on the squad’s composition, Wambua said, “It is perfectly balanced, we have six players who have been in the set up and six new boys coming in. Three of the new call ups were in the setup before and the other three are first timers and it is very important that we give the boys confidence because we know they have the ability to take on the rest of Africa.”

NOCK hands financial boost 

Officials from NOCK hand over sponsorship to Shujaa ahead of the Olympic qualifiers

Officials from NOCK hand over sponsorship to Shujaa ahead of the Olympic qualifiers

At the same time, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) has handed the team a Sh1.5mn financial injection to boost their kitty during the qualifiers.

The sponsorship is part of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya strategy to support teams on their Paris 2024 Olympic Games pathway. Shujaa becomes the third team sport to receive this kind of support after the women’s hockey team and the malkia strikers who recently got crowned African champions.

“We have had very good training sessions and the boys are in a good mood and high spirits therefore I believe we will be in Paris come next year,” said skipper Vincent Onyala.

The team departs for Zimbabwe on Thursday.

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