Kenya want to shock the world, Zim brace for Canada challenge

The Herald

CAPE TOWN. — While they aren’t anywhere near favourites for this year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens, African sides are looking to make their mark in a tournament played on African soil when it kicks off in Cape Town today.

Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe join South Africa in the men’s competition while Madagascar make their debut with South Africa in the women’s competition when play gets underway at the Cape Town Stadium.

And while they aren’t given too much of a hope by many, Kenya are one side that believe they can win the trophy.

Nelson Ooyu, their captain, firmly believes they can become the upset of the tournament and take home the trophy for Africa.

“I think looking back from LA, we had a good tournament and we had good results, so we want to take the Cup home,” Ooyuu said.

“For Kenya and for the entire continent.”

Kenya have to first get past Tonga to get into the last 16 of the knockout competition and Ooyuu is confident they can do that.

“We have played Tonga before and every team can’t relax because it is a knockout stage, so every game counts.

“You have to start focusing from the word go, and you need to get your momentum from the first game, and that can drive you all the way to the final.”

Ooyu is sure the Cape Town support will help the side. “Hey man, it is Africa, we expect the support of the African people, it means a lot to us during the tournament.”

There were all smiles from Kudzai Mashawi, captain of the Zimbabwe team, who will lead his side into their sixth World Cup appearance, but will face strong opposition in the opening game of the pre-round when they face Canada. 

Zimbabwe are seeded 23rd in the 24 team tournament, while Canada are seeded 10th.

“We are a process-driven team and we are going to go out there and do our best. We need to make sure what we are doing on the field at practice and the months of work we have put in, we are competing and making a name for ourselves and making sure the home crowd get the show they deserve,” Mashawi said.

Mashawi is also hoping to get a lot of support from the home fans in the tournament to try and lift the team.

“It will give us comfort to play on almost home soil, we’re just next door. You think that will count a bit when it matters most and when it is tough,” he added. The road for African teams will be tough though. If they make it through the pre-round and get into the last 16, they will face a lot tougher opposition.

But Sevens is a strange game, and the brevity of the match situation means if one team is on their game and another just slightly off, it can be an upset. And that will give the African teams’ hope.

African team matches


9:07am Canada v Zimbabwe

9:29am Samoa v Uganda

10:23am Kenya v Tonga


12:11pm Australia v Madagascar —

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