Kenya Sevens chances of retaining their World Sevens Series core status have been complicated further after landing in another tough group for the last leg of the 208/19 competition in Paris this weekend.
Shujaa face London finalists Australia, series defending champions South Africa and fellow relegation candidates Wales in the Paris Sevens.
Shujaa picked up a paltry one point from a disastrous outing in London and are currently in 14th -two points ahead of bottom-placed Japan with one leg remaining. The team that finishes last will be replaced by Ireland next season.
Out of the nine tournaments played, Kenya are yet to the Main Cup quarter-finals this season. Paul Murunga’s charges open their campaign against London Seven finalists Australia, a team that thrashed Shujaa 47-0 in Vancouver in March.
Kenya face South Africa next in their second pool match before winding up against fellow relegation candidates Wales, who are three points above Kenya on the log.
Kenya only won one match in London—narrowly beating Samoa 21-20, losing 24-17 to Fiji, 31-17 to France, 29-21 to Scotland and 26-17 to Japan.
This is Shujaa’s worst ever performance since attaining core status in 2003 and the team must better the performance of Japan in Paris to survive.
The good news for Kenya is that powerhouses South Africa have qualified automatically for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year alongside Olympic champions Fiji, World champions New Zealand and the USA.
Kenya Sevens skipper Jacob Ojee said the side must regroup and focus at the task at hand to secure core status for next season. “It’s huge for us. We must reset and focus for Paris and ensure we maintain our core status for next season,” added Ojee.
He termed the pool in Paris difficult but winnable for the charges. “The first game against Australia and the second match South Africa will be key and the boys must play their hearts out. We need to tighten up on a few things and I am confident we can get the good results in Paris,” he added.
Ojee singled out Vincent Onyala and Bush Mwale for their performance in London and expects them to carry that form to the French capital.
Pool A will feature Fiji, Ireland, Argentina, England while Pool ‘C’ has the USA, Canada, Samoa and Spain. Pool ‘D’ comprise France New Zealand, Scotland and Spain.
Standings: Fiji 164, USA 162, New Zealand 143, South Africa 131, England 109, Australia 99, Samoa 95, France 86, Argentina 84 Scotland 69, Canada 51 Spain 48 Wales 30, Kenya 27 and Japan 25.