There are eight changes to the Simbas starting fifteen as they face off with Hong Kong in their final fixture of the RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Friday 18 November 2022.
Head Coach Paul Odera makes five of these changes in the forwards with Eugene Sifuna, Clinton Odhiambo and George Nyambua starting after coming off the bench in Saturday’s defeat to Portugal while Bethuel Anami and Patrick Ouko returning after missing out last weekend.
Darwin Mukidza, Geoffrey Ominde and Jacob Ojee return to a backline that sees Samuel Asati restored to scrumhalf with Brian Tanga deployed on the wing.
Odera, in his pre-match media interview addressed several issues, notably:
Getting the team to bounce back from Saturday’s heavy defeat
“It’s been tough to pick the players up after the Portuguese score but we’ve tried to get it to the boys that we need to finish with some pride and dignity and see how we want to be remembered from this repechage.”
“Obviously it will be historical if we can get a win because no African team has won a game at the repechage in the past.”
On team selection
“Everyone has had a chance to play bar one, that is Brian Waraba who is on the bench. It was challenging because there were some players who did put their hands up to show that they can play at this level.”
“Of course there was a concern about the rustiness, with players not having played for three or four months. There was that difficulty in trying to make a choice on who is going to play and who is not going to play.”
“The changes we’ve made here are quite a number. Patrick Ouko comes back in at loosehead prop, Eugene Sifuna who was on the bench in the last game comes in at hooker. Ominde who didn’t play in the last game comes in at flyhalf.
“We’ve moved Asati back from fullback to scrumhalf. The center pairing remains the same but we’ve lost Brian Juma through suspension after his red card in the last game. Clinton Odhiambo who jumped quite well and has been knocking on the door comes in to start at second row with our captain Malcolm Onsando. ”
“Jacob Ojee returns at the wing while Brian Tanga who started at nine moves to the wing, he has really exceptional feet and we hope that he will be as dangerous on the wing. He played on the wing last year up to November, and then we took him back to his traditional nine…but our backline is struggling, we lost five starting players from the backline who played in July so it’s about looking which combinations can work.”
“Joshua Weru, our teenager, drops to the bench, to see what impact he can bring in. “
On the match
“It’s going to be an interesting match for us, let’s hope that the players can dig deep and look for that pride that we expect.”
What to expect from Hong Kong
“One thing with Hong Kong, they are a very physical side. We do expect their physicality. They’ve got a very strong rolling maul…that is something that we need to be very wary of. We need to make sure that we are playing the game in the right parts of the field and what we have to do is probably be a bit smarter in where we play the game.”
We had almost equal possession stats against Portugal but were in the wrong parts of the field…so that’s something we need to be wary of, it’s something that we need to play a bit better.”
If we can get into the right parts of the field and get our players to run from a bit deeper, we will be in with a chance of being competitive in the game.”
This fixture takes place at 4.00pm EAT on Friday.
Simbas match day squad
15.Darwin Mukidza, 14. Jacob Ojee, 13. Bryceson Adaka, 12. John Okoth, 11. Brian Tanga, 10. Geoffrey Ominde, 9. Samuel Asati, 1. Patrick Ouko, 2. Eugene Sifuna, 3. Ephraim Oduor, 4. Malcolm Onsando (captain), 5. Clinton Odhiambo, 6. George Nyambua, 7. Martin Owilah, 8. Bethuel Anami REPLACEMENTS 16. Brian Waraba, 17. Andrew Siminyu, 18. Joseph Odero, 19. Thomas Okeyo, 20. Joshua Weru, 21. Samson Onsomu, 22. Peter Kilonzo, 23. Geoffrey Okwach