Experience, promise could carry 'Shujaa' all the way in Tokyo
Willy Ambaka and Jeffrey Oluoch highlight the rich mix injected by coach Innocent Simiyu into Kenya’s sevens rugby national team.
“Shujaa” are a blend of experience and promise, with Ambaka among the mature lot and Oluoch holding promise for the future.
The team on Wednesday trained at the Tsatsumi grounds, adjacent to the main Olympic aquatic centre in Tokyo, with Ambaka playing down the sweltering Tokyo heat that on Tuesday touched 40 degrees Celcius in some parts.
After all, he’s used to adverse conditions in Russia where he plays for St Petersburg side Narvskaya Zastava.
“The heat is not as bad and I am sure the boys are loving it to be honest,” he said.
“We have always complained of the cold weather. We thank the government and the National Olympic Committee for getting us here early to acclimatise and get our bodies right and ready for the special occasion on Monday.”
The team takes a break from training Thursday, pretty much having done most of the heavy lifting.
“We are now close to the business end of things. We all know the Olympics is the pinnacle of all games. The boys are excited and we can’t wait to get the run out on Monday,” Ambaka said, adding that experience will count.
“We have an experienced squad, but we have to be careful not to let emotions get into us.
“We just need to stay calm and with a peace of mind and just get the results out of Tokyo.”
Shujaa have been pooled in Pool ‘B’ of the rugby tournament here alongside South Africa, USA and Ireland.
“The target is to top the pool,” Ambaka said after Wednesday’s training.
“I mean we have prepared well. I am pretty sure this a competitive squad we have here. We just need to focus on ourselves first.
“We have to be in the right mindset, getting the body to feel right and getting the little things right.
“We have played against these teams before and have won against all of them. We just need to focus on ourselves, getting our bodies feel right.
“I am pretty sure we will get some good results come Monday.
Oluoch, on the other hand, is loving the Olympic experience.
“It is a good feeling being in Tokyo. The boys are loving the weather. It is a bit sunny but we are getting used to it and getting our vibe going.”
How does he feel about his Olympic debut?
“There is a little bit of mixed feelings from a personal level,” he said.
“There is excitement, there is a bit of anxiety, a bit of nervousness, but the good thing is that we have the experienced guys, the cool heads that ensure there is not much press or excitement.
“That way they are levelling things and therefore making things easy for us.”
Kenya Sevens squad:
Andrew Amonde (KCB,Captain), Jacob Ojee (KCB, Johnstone Olindi (KCB), Billy Odhiambo (Mwamba), Collins Injera (Mwamba), Daniel Taabu (Mwamba), Eden Agero (Kenya Harlequin), Vincent Onyala (KCB), Nelson Oyoo (Top Fry Nakuru), Jeffrey Oluoch (Homeboyz), Alvin Otieno (Homeboyz), Herman Humwa (Kenya Harlequin), Willy Ambaka (Kenya Harlequin).