Kenya 15s team ready to challenge for World Cup ticket

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-15 22:21:44|Editor: Li Xia
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NAIROBI, June 15 (Xinhua) -- The Kenya 15s team has twice finished as runners-up to Namibia in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, but head coach Ian Snook believes that is about to change as the quest for the World Cup ticket starts Saturday in different cities across the continent.

Starting off as underdogs, the Kenya 15s side, which is also known as the Simbas, have successfully climbed up to be among the top teams in the continent and will be among the six who will be jostling for the two tickets available to go for the World Cup finals in Japan in 2019.

Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Morocco, Namibia and Uganda will be battling out for continental bragging rights with the winner securing automatic qualification to join South Africa in the World Cup finals in Japan.

The second finisher will join reparchrge Cup competition to battle three other teams from Asia/Latin, Europe and Americas for the final slot in the finals.

"We must dominate the tourney and secure the first spot, which is the easiest way to make it to World Cup finals," said coach Snook in Nairobi on Friday.

Kenya has displaced Zimbabwe as Africa's second-most powerful rugby playing nation outside of South Africa and will hope this year, they beat Namibia for the top spot and clinch the Rugby Gold Cup trophy.

New Zealand coach Snook has brought in new players to wrap around the steel of experienced players and hopes their team can go all the way and secure this year's World Cup ticket ahead of favorites Namibia.

"This year's Rugby Africa Gold Cup looks balanced and open to all teams. Every team is a threat," said Michael Kwambo, Kenya Rugby Union Communication Officer.

Kenya launched their training camp in February even before securing the signature of their new coach from New Zealand following the departure of South African Jerome Paarwater last December.

Snook had his first competitive match against the Uganda Cranes in the first leg of the annual Elgon Cup, with Kenya 15s teams easily securing a 24-9 away win to assert their dominance over the regional rivals.

"Coach Snook called up players from Under-20 internationals like Malcom Onsando, Leo Seje, Eddie Anya and Xavier Bett, all with the ability to fulfill their potential," he added.

Kenya launches their title campaign away in Morocco on June 23 before hosting Zimbabwe a week later.

They will then play two consecutive home games against the Uganda Cranes early in July and Tunisia on August 11 and conclude the 18th against Namibia.