Shujaa storm cup quarter-finals, books date with Fiji in Dubai
Kenya sevens rugby team popularly known as Shujaa will contest for Dubai 7s title after the Innocent Simiyu coached side qualified for the quarte finals courtesy of a 26-12 win over Spain in their final pool B fixture.
Shujaa now book a date with rugby sevens Olympic champions Fiji at 10.34am.
The 26-12 win over the Spanish was not enough for Shujaa to beat Ireland to the seventh place but enough to clinch the second slot thanks to a positive two point difference that was superior to the next opponent- France who finished the opening day with a -2 points.
Shujaa only needed a win and organise themselves defensively in the last two fixtures to confirm a place in the main cup knockouts.
The 12-team competition only has the first and second teams from each pool qualifying for the cup quarters while the final two positions are taken up by the best two losers, slots that are determined by points difference and Shujaa were lucky after being pressed but still managed to end their match against Spain with a positive point difference that saved the day.
Kenya thus ended up falling short by three points to tie with Ireland from pool C and four points shy to beat them to the best third loser, but a 2 points difference was enough to give coach Simiyu a chance to finish eighth on the opening day of the Dubai Sevens event.
Shujaa kicked off the tournament on a losing note that was worsened by a second successive pool loss to Argentina, but a 26-12 win over Spain in the last pool fixture of the day ensured Kenya’s positive points difference target was hit to upset France in pool A due to the difference.
The last clash was the top eight knockouts determinant for Shujaa after opening the 2021/22 series with two straight losses to USA Eagles (12-7) and the Pumas (22-17).
Against Spain, it was a must win for Shujaa and not just a win but a win by over 21 points to beat a superior five points difference set by Ireland after the Irish men silenced Japan 33-0 to declare interest in the best loser ticket after suffering defeats to the series defending champs South Africa and runners-up Great Britain.
The crucial win temporarily placed Kenya on level points with the USA but a final pool B match between Argentina and USA ended in a 21-21 stalemate that gave Argentina a first place finish in the group while USA, Kenya and Spain finished second, third and fourth respectively.
Shujaa drew first blood against Spain through Eduardo Lopez' converted try, but Kenya responded with two tries for a 12-7 lead at the break.
Johnstone Olindi scored the first try in the sixth minute for Levy Amunga to convert before Billy Odhiambo gave Kenya a try for a 12-7 lead at the break.
Soon after the break Shujaa scored through Herman Humwa who scored the third try and converted by Tony Omondi.
Shujaa doubled the pressure soon after the restart to force Juan Ramos to flare and earn a yellow card that gave Kenya a crucial one-man advantage that was converted by captain Nelson Oyoo who set up Billy Odhiambo to score his second try of the day.
Tony Omondi converted for a 26-7 scoreline, but Spain scored an unconverted try that cancelled a seven point difference to just two and despite the 26-12 to book a date with Fiji.
USA 14-7 Kenya 7s – 9.16am
Argentina 22-17 Kenya 7s – 1.30pm
Kenya 7s 26-12 Spain – 4:02 PM
Argentina v Ireland - 9.28am
South Africa v Australia - 9.50am
USA v Great Britain - 10.12am
Kenya v Fiji - 10.34am