SIMBAS PLOT BIG

Odera promises to pick the best for 2023 World Cup qualifiers

The former international said a firm culture and identity shift will be key for the Simbas if they are to qualify for the event.

In Summary

• The Simbas missed out on qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan by losing in the repechage to Canada, Hong Kong and Germany and in 2015, came close to qualifying for the global extravaganza but lost to Zimbabwe in Madagascar.

• Odera termed 2020 a lost year with no international fixtures, like the Africa Cup, due to the Covid-19 — leaving the Simbas with just one year to prepare, something they will have to adapt to quickly once they get the green light from the Ministry of Sports and Health to resume training.

Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera
Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera

Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera has promised to pick the country's best players as the country seeks to qualify for the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever.

With a year to go to the qualifiers for the 2023 edition if France, Odera said: "We need to try and use data to select the best Kenyan team of rugby players across the world."

"Whether it is players in Australia, South Africa, England and even here in Kenya, it’s upon us to set up a database and a system of analysis to determine which players can run on the field to represent Kenya.”

“I want to blend the different type of players in the country; the settler community — who start playing rugby when still young — and those who start off late but are strong mentally.  If we can create synergy within such differences, we can have a good team.”

The Simbas missed out on qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan by losing in the repechage to Canada, Hong Kong and Germany and in 2015, came close to qualifying for the global extravaganza but lost to Zimbabwe in Madagascar.

The former international said a firm culture and identity shift will be key for the Simbas if they are to qualify for the event.

"It’s about the culture. We are not going to compete financially. The first step has been setting up a very firm culture and a value-based system within the Simbas," he observed.

Odera termed 2020 a lost year with no international fixtures, like the Africa Cup, due to the Covid-19 — leaving the Simbas with just one year to prepare, something they will have to adapt to quickly once they get the green light from the Ministry of Sports and Health to resume training.

“Our best-case scenario is that we could have just one year of preparations, which is not enough for the intensity and physicality needed to train for such qualifiers, but we have no other option but to adjust accordingly once we resume,” added Odera.