Ayimba selects his 12 disciples for Olympics qualifiers
Head Coach Benjamin Ayimba has unveiled the 12-man Kenya squad for the Africa Sevens in Johannesburg this weekend which will also serve as 2016 Olympics qualifiers .
Ayimba has included Willy Ambaka who last featured for the team during the 2012/13 season in an experienced team captained by Andrew Amonde and featuring the likes of Collins Injera, Biko Adema and Dennis Ombachi who returns after recovering from a shoulder injury.
We look closely at the squad and try to mind read coach Ayimba’s decisions to come with these 12 men.
1. Andrew Amonde- A true leader of men on and off the pitch. A workhose and an accomplished ball carrier. A KCB RFC fanatic once described him as “ng’ombe ya KCB” meaning that Amonde carries the team whenever and does most of the dirty work. He’ll be needed to be at his best at the breakdown and contest for those loose balls. His name must have been the first on the team list.
2. Collins Injera- One of the most prolific finishers in the shorter version of rugby both locally and globally. Injera’s versatility will be key to Kenya’s qualification for Rio 2016. He can play as a sweeper, centre or at the wing. Injera’s kicking abilities is another quality that this Mwamba RFC player posses. His experience, trickery and pace will pose a big problem to opponents in Johannesburg.
3. Jeff Oluoch- A greenhorn who made his debut for the national team during the 2015 Safari Sevens. His workrate is commendable but yet to be tested against the game’s finest. This will be his chance to announce his arrival at the big stage. Pundits have noted that his inclusion may have been due to Humphrey Kayange’s and Bush Mwale’s absence.
4. Eden Agero- Once touted as the next playmaker for Kenya 7s, Eden’s form took a huge blow after he sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the gaMe for close to a year. His low moment was when he made his return to the national team during Elgon Cup. He was out of breathe, out of ideas and out of his self! But credit to the ex-St. Mary’s Yala lad he has worked his socks off to capture his best form and led Kenya’s second string side Moran to Bowl victory in 2015 Safari Sevens.
5. Biko Adema- Biko was once written off sometime last year after his form dipped to an astonishing low. Like a phoenix, Biko had a stellar sevens season with his club, Nondies, earlier this year and again he will be the team’s playmaker Down South. He’ll need to carry his kicking shoes though.
6. Augustine Lugonzo- The former Kakamega High School flyhalf deserves his spot in the team. Lugonzo was introduced to the team by former head coach Paul Treu and had a good outing in Gold Coast before breaking his leg. His power, pace and eye for that gap will be needed to ensure the team books it’s place in Rio.
7. Willie Ambaka- A former member of World Dream Team, Willie is a natural selection for Ayimba. His aerial abilities will give the team an added advantage at kick offs, an important part of a sevens game, and his bullish runs will definetly be too much to handle for opponents.
8. Oscar Ayodi- Ayodi has been in the set up for quite some time now and he is another versatile player. He can play at sweeper, wing and centre. He will most likely start from the bench.
9. Dennis Ombachi- This is one player who the local pundits had already written his rugby eulogy. A combination of injuries and contract disputes had conspired to lock the Mwamba RFC player out of the game for almost one and half years. He will be looking to announce to his detractors that the “Ghostworker” is back and back for good!
10. Frank Wanyama- Another new kid on the block. Frank had a good 2015 sevens season with Kenya Harlequin RFC. He is not yet a complete player as he gets carried away by the game. He needs to cut down on showboating and elaborate try celebrations.
11. Leonard Mugaisi- Another player whose career progression has been blighted by injuries. In August, Mugaisi left the pitch during Prinsloo Sevens in tears after injuring his knee. Probably he was thinking that his career was grinding to a halt. He has miraculously recovered and he’s on the plane to SA. He’ll be mostly used as a finisher.
12. Billy Odhiambo- Enfant terrible of Kenyan rugby. Billy is a talented player with a knack of scoring crucial tries. His presence in the team will add that “invincibility” aura around it and give it an upper edge over most of our rivals. He’s a player that every other coach would wish to be in his team.
Nairobi News wishes the Kenya Sevens team to Johannesburg all the best. “Rio Tunaenda Mabudaaaaa!”