Odera gives youth a chance in Elgon Cup clash

In Summary

• Odera blends youth sand experience for Elgon Cup Clash against Uganda in Kisumu.

• Tactician hands four debuts to players from Kenya under 20 team.

Simbas’ Simon Muniafu scores a try during a past match against Uganda.
Simbas’ Simon Muniafu scores a try during a past match against Uganda.

Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera believes a combination of youth and experience will be valuable as they face the Uganda Cranes in the first leg of the Elgon Cup in Kisumu on Saturday.

Odera has gone for five players from the victorious Kenya Under 20 squad to make their debuts in the test match including second-row Emmanuel Silungi,  siblings Cameron and Dominic Coulson and backs Geoffrey Okwtach and Jeff Mutuku, who starts on the bench.

Odera said the youngsters will be tested in the transition to the senior level but expressed optimism that they will deliver.

"Those chosen have worked hard in training and we want to see how they will fair against quality opposition on Saturday,” said Odera.

Odera noted the squad has a good balance.

"We have retained some of the players who played at last years repechage in France and the leadership and experience will be key for both matches against Uganda,” added Odera.

Likewise, Uganda have named a young squad without star man Phillip Wokorach and Ivan Magomu for the first leg but Odera doesn't expect an easy ride.

“Traditionally, Uganda are very strong in set-pieces and in the contact areas and we have prepared the boys to know what to expect from them. As much as we may have had limited training time, we are up for the challenge,” said Odera.

Odera said playing the game away from the comfort of Nairobi to the hot and humid conditions in Kisumu may favour the visitors “ It will be a different environment to what the boys are used to and we have to adapt and adjust to the conditions,” added Odera.

The Simbas have won the Elgon Cup 10 times since inception in 2004 with the Ugandans winning it thrice. The match will be preceded by a clash pitting the women's teams at 1:30 pm. Both sides will be using the match as build up for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers in South Africa in August.

Shujaa Squad: Sorano Oscar (KCB), Francombe Toby (Nondies), Odero Joseph(Kabras), Muniafu Simon (Impala), Silungi Emanuel (Homeboyz), Akuei Monate (Nakuru), Coulson Cameron (Durham University),  Musonye Elkeans (Impala), Onsomu Samson (Impala), Coulson Dominic (Unattached), Omondi Billy (Impala), Okoth John (Nakuru), Kilonzo Peter (KCB), Okwach Geoffrey (KCB), Njoroge Isaac(KCB)

Replacements: Musila Grifin (KCB), Ouko Patrick (Homeboyz), Oduor Ephraim (Kabras), Onsando Malcolm(Quins), Nyambua George (Kabras), Wanjala Michael (KCB), Kuka Charles (USIU), Mutuku Jeff (Quins).

Lionesses Squad: Juliet Nyambura (Northern Suburbs), Stacy Atieno ( Mwamba), Imogen Hooper (Northern Suburbs) – (VC), Enid Ouma (Homeboyz), Bernadette Oleisia (Shamas Rugby Foundation), Janet Awino (Homeboyz) – (VC), Mitchelle Akinyi (Impala), Leah Wambui ( Homeboyz), Irene Otieno (Homeboyz), Grace Adhiambo (Nakuru), Jamari Agatha (Mwamba), Philadelphia Orlando (Northern Suburbs) – (Captain), Celestine Masinde (Mwamba), Christabel Lindo (Impala), Janet Okelo (Mwamba),

Replacements: Knight Otuoma (Kisumu RFC), Everlyne Kalimera (Mwamba), Mercy Migongo (Homeboyz), Emma Awuor (Homeboyz), Anjeline Apiyo (Nakuru), Veronica Wanjiku (Nakuru), Sophie Ayieta (Homeboyz),Stella Wafula( Impala)