shujaa face fiji and wales in sydney sevens contest

Kenya Sevens player William Ambaka tackles England’s Dan Norton on day one of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens 2020 men’s competition at FMG Stadium Waikato on 25 January, 2020 in Hamilton, New Zealand. [Courtesy]

Kenya’s Shujaa will be keen to improve on their inconsistent showing at last weekend’s Hamilton tournament when they open their Sydney Sevens campaign against Fiji tomorrow.

Shujaa finished eighth in Hamilton after losing twice and drawing once with their only win coming against three-time series winners South Africa.

Paul Feeney’s charges, who have been drawn in pool A at the fourth leg of the 2019-20 World Sevens series, will also face series leaders New Zealand and Wales in their other preliminaries.

Kenya launches their quest against a Fiji side that is reeling from a disastrous outing last weekend having finished ninth, one place below Shujaa.

The Fijians, who are the series defending champions, have dominated their meetings with Kenya in recent times and tomorrow’s encounter will be the first clash between the teams this season.

Kenya have lost their last five matches against Fiji with their last win happening at the 2017-18 Paris Sevens when they claimed a 22-19 victory.

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“I think it’s great for us to test ourselves against the best teams in the world. Its better to face them now and find out where we are as a group,” Feeney said earlier this week.

“It will be a great challenge and we shall find out the good, the bad and the ugly about us. We have plenty of time to fix our problems and build on some of our strengths because there is more learning to come for this group,” added Feeney.

Top on Feeney’s priority list will be ensuring that Shujaa’s defence and concentration especially in the second half improves in order to avoid disappointments like those witnessed in Hamilton where they held comfortable leads only to allow opponents to get back into the game in the latter stages of the tie.

The New Zealander will also be keen to see his men remain disciplined in crucial areas of the field to avoid conceding penalties that would prove costly.

Shujaa, who occupy 10th position on the overall standings with 25 points, will head into their second match against Wales as favourites with the former world champions currently struggling for form as they are last with a paltry four points.

The last five meetings between Kenya and Wales in the World Sevens series have seen the East Africans claim four wins. Shujaa bagged a 26-21 victory the last time the two faced off at last season’s Paris Sevens in France.

As was the case in the Hamilton’s leg, only the four pool winners will remain in contention for the title by advancing to the Main Cup semi-finals. The scraping of quarter-finals makes Kenya’s mission tough as they have to reign supreme in a pool that has sevens powerhouses New Zealand and Fiji.

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