Kenya Sevens open their Rugby World Cup campaign with tricky qualifying tie against Tonga today (11:01pm) at AT&T Park in San Francisco, USA.
A win for Kenya against the Pacific islanders will see them face World Series regulars Scotland in another tricky round of 16 duel tomorrow morning (5:03am).
A win against the Scots will see Innocent Simiyu’s charges setting up a quarter final showdown against world series champions South Africa on Sunday (1:32am).
Shujaa will be seeking to go all the away this time round after getting to the semis in the past two World Cup events in Dubai in 2009 and Moscow in 2013, losing to Argentina and England respectively.
The format of this year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens has been changed with knockout matches from the preliminaries all the way to the final unlike past editions, where the 24 teams were pooled into six groups of four teams.
Shujaa arrived on Monday in San Francisco and immediately got down to business—fine tuning their preparations—ahead of the global extravaganza.
Head coach Innocent Simiyu, who played at two World Cups, has urged his players to seize the moment and make history.
“We have had three days to sharpen our preparations and get the players into the mood for the event. We are relishing the challenge,” added Simiyu.
Simiyu termed the first match against Tonga as critical.
“This being a knockout format, we must be We have to start very well…get our game going…hit our performance standards very early….get the results that we want and proceed from there,” he added.
Simiyu said he expects physical contest from the Tongans.
“We rarely play them but from the few times we have, they are physical and play with a bit of flair,” added Simiyu.
Talisman Collins Injera, Willy Ambaka and Eden Agero, who are the survivors from the last World Cup in Russia are expected to start against Tonga alongside Dan Sikuta, Sammy Oliech skipper Oscar Ayodi and Nelson Oyoo.