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Kenya Lionesses off to Chile for World Rugby Challenger Series

Kenya Lionesses players try out the rugby pitch at new-look Jamhuri Sports Complex in Nairobi on March 25, 2022.

The Lionesses will kick off their campaign with a clash against China on August 12 at 9.01pm EAT before taking on continental rivals South Africa at 2.37am EAT on August 13.

They will wind up their pool play with a match against hosts Chile at 5.34pm EAT on August 13.

Other teams vying for the single ticket on offer are Poland, Belgium, Papua New Guinea and Argentina (Pool E) and Japan, Kazakhstan, Colombia and Mexico (Pool F).

Kenya Lionesses are itching to give a good account of themselves at the upcoming World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Chile after flopping at the Africa Women’s Sevens in April.

The Challenger Series takes place in Santiago from August 12-14. It will serve as the qualification tournament for the 2022-2023 World Rugby Sevens Series. Only the winner of the 12-nation competition will gain promotion.

Kenya is in Pool “D” alongside perennial Africa champions South Africa as well as China and hosts Chile.

The Lionesses, who left for Chile on Sunday night at 11 pm connecting via France and Peru, have been to all Africa Women’s Sevens finals since 2014 and won the title in 2018, before being shocked by neighbors Uganda 10-7 at the group phase on their way to fifth place finish in Jemmal, Tunisia in April this year.

Kenya coach Dennis Mwanja said they will take one game at a time.

“We are also looking to reach the knockout phase, and if the girls are up for it, which I know they are, we are going to enjoy ourselves. Coming from a bad tournament in Tunisia, we are going to give a good account as Kenya Lionesses,” said Mwanja.

The former Kenya Sevens star noted that they had worked on their skills, defense as well as game awareness.

“The girls have also improved on their weaknesses and we are looking forward to a good tournament.”

However, Mwanja noted that there were no easy games at the Challenger Series.

“It is a matter of rising to the occasion. We are not going there with the attitude that there is an easy game, but with the mindset that matches will be hard, and we need to go hard at our opponents. We respect them but we are not going to relax. The girls are ready to play,” he said.

Mwanja also commented on the captaincy changes he made by replacing Japan-based Janet Okello with Impala Saracens star Judith Auma.

“Janet is based in Japan and we needed a captain who is on the ground. For the sake of management, it was only reasonable to do that. You cannot lead people when you are so far away that’s why we gave the captaincy armband to Judith. She is very hardworking, determined and focused.”

The Lionesses went camping at Rosa Mystica along Ngong Road on August 5 and did their training at the RFUEA grounds.

Shebesh, as Okello is famously nicknamed, reiterated that the change of captain was good for the team “because I’m not always around with the team”.

“I don’t have any bad feelings. As long as we win that’s all that matters,” said Shebesh, adding that the team’s morale was high.

The Lionesses will kick off their campaign with a clash against China on August 12 at 9.01 pm EAT before taking on continental rivals South Africa at 2.37 am EAT on August 13.

They will wind up their pool play with a match against hosts Chile at 5.34 pm EAT on August 13.

Other teams vying for the single ticket on offer are Poland, Belgium, Papua New Guinea and Argentina (Pool E) and Japan, Kazakhstan, Colombia and Mexico (Pool F).

NATION AFRICA

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