What you need to know:
- Kabras, arguably the best defensive side this season, seeks to outwit the charged bankers for the first time in a Kenya Cup final, having met five times at similar stage previously with the Ruaraka side reigning supreme in all
- Despite proving imperious to win 29-23 in their last meeting, Kabras Sugar coach Carlos Katywa warns that the final encounter won’t be as easy as the last time
- KCB skipper Curtis Lilako said they are in Kakamega to take back Kenya Cup to Ruaraka, having worked hard for a repeat of the previous finals
Will this be the moment for Kabras Sugar Rugby Club to savour another historic moment or will KCB Rugby Club once again ruin the party at the forest?
Unbeaten in 12 matches this season including their 22-08 semi-final victory against Kenya Harlequin, champions Kabras Sugar host former title holders KCB in the Kenya Cup final at the Kakamega Showground on Saturday.
Kabras, arguably the best defensive side this season, seeks to outwit the charged bankers for the first time in a Kenya Cup final, having met five times at similar stage previously with the Ruaraka side reigning supreme in all.
Kabras have been to all the Kenya Cup finals (eight times) since their promotion to the topflight league in 2015 after winning the Nationwide league during the 2013/14 season.
However, they have only managed to lift the prestigious title twice-when they beat Impala Saracens 22-5 in 2015/16 at the Impala Sports Club and Menengai Oilers 34-28 last season.
Despite proving imperious to win 29-23 in their last meeting, Kabras Sugar coach Carlos Katywa warns that the final encounter won’t be as easy as the last time.
“KCB have the mindset that Kenya Cup belongs to them even after it eluded them last year,” Katywa said but warned KCB not to make the mistake that Kabras will sit back as they terrorise them.
“The biggest motivator is not only to beat them in the final for the first time but also the smile that we will put on the faces of the Western Kenya community, our sponsor and supporters,” he added.
Katywa said having a mental coach on board has helped players normalise meeting KCB as well as doing away with what can’t change, especially the referee calls.
“Not idolising the game with KCB every time will enable us to get away from the voodoo or curse that we can’t beat them in the final,” said Katywa, adding that 80 percent of the teams that have won the World Cup had good defence.
Kabras skipper George Nyambua said that having a good pre-season improved their defensive and attack skills beside their set-pieces.
“We learnt our lessons especially in the last final at Nandi Bears with KCB in 2021. Our defence leaked but that has been fixed. We are also an 80 minutes team unlike before,” said Nyambua.
Kabras flanker Kevin Wekesa believes that lack of maturity cost them previous finals.
“Though young we now have the experience hence expect quality final,” said Wekesa.
Kabras Sugar ended their 10-match losing streak against KCB, beating them 19-6 in Ruaraka in 2019 before their second win, 30-23, at Nandi Bears in 2021. They beat the bankers 9-6 in Enterprise Cup final last season before their recent 29-23 win at the Den.
KCB skipper Curtis Lilako said they are in Kakamega to take back Kenya Cup to Ruaraka, having worked hard for a repeat of the previous finals.
“We give Kabras the respect they deserve this being their eighth consecutive Kenya Cup final. We can’t handle them the way we want,” cautioned Lilako, adding that discipline will win it for them.
Kabras have made interesting tactical changes with Wekesa and Brian Tanga starting at flank and fly-half instead of Nyambua and Ntabeni Dukisa respectively.
Ntabeni moves to fullback replacing Jone Kubu, who takes the bench while Dan Ang’wech comes in for Barry Robinson at scrum-half. Alfred Orege takes the wing instead of Lameck Ambetsa.
KCB have minimal changes from the side that beat Oilers in the semis. Darwin Mukidza moves from fullback to wing, replacing Michael Kimwere, who takes the bench. Isaac Njoroge gets to start as the last man while Shaban Ahmed replaces Brian Wahinya at fly-half.
15. Ntabeni Dukisa, 14. Mathias Osimbo, 13. Bryceson Adaka, 12. Walter Okoth, 11. Alfred Orege, 10. Brian Tanga, 9. Dan Ang’wech, 1. Ephraim Oduor, 2. Eugene Sifuna, 3. Hilary Mwanjilwa, 4. Elphas Emong, 5. Brian Juma, 6. Kevin Wekesa, 7. Daniel Sikuta, 8. Jeanson Musoga
16. Teddy Akala, 17. Emmanuel Otieno, 18. Asuman Mugerwa, 19. Hillary Odhiambo, 20. George Nyambua, 21. Barry Robinson, 22. Jone Kubu, 23. Lameck Ambetsa
15. Isaac Njoroge, 14. Darwin Mukidza, 13. Peter Kilonzo, 12. Maxwell Kang’eri, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Shabani Ahmed, 9. Samuel Asati, 1. Oscar Simiyu, 2. Wilfred Waswa, 3. Curtis Lilako (Capt), 4. Elvis Olukusi, 5. Davis Chenge, 6. Andrew Amonde, 7. Felix Ojoo, 8. Peter Waitere
16. Griffin Musila, 17. Thomas Jimbo Okidia, 18. Nelson Nyandat, 19. Brian Munyali, 20. Steve Wamai, 21. Michael Wanjala, 22. Johnstone Olindi, 23. Michael Kimwele