KCB's perfect start faces Impala test

Curtis Lilako (left), Levi Amunga and Isaac Njoroge of KCB vie for the ball with Gramuel Bunyasi of Top Fry Nakuru

Curtis Lilako (left), Levi Amunga and Isaac Njoroge of KCB vie for the ball with Gramuel Bunyasi of Top Fry Nakuru during their Kenya Cup match at KCB Sports Club in Ruaraka on December 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • After guiding his team to their fourth consecutive Kenya Cup victory last season, Olago says that their targets set out five years ago are still on as they host Impala Saracens at KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka at 3pm
  • In other matches, Strathmore Leos will host fellow varsity side Masinde Muliro at The Cage in Madaraka while leaders Kabras Sugar welcome 17-time champions Nondescripts to the ASK Showground in Kakamega
  • Menengai Oilers tackle Kenya Harlequin at the ASK Showground in Nakuru while Homeboyz will take on Nakuru in a match set for Jamhuri Park in Nairobi

KCB Rugby coach Curtis Olago has a clear message for his charges as the 2021 Kenya Cup league resumes Saturday after Christmas and New Year celebration break.

After guiding his team to their fourth consecutive Kenya Cup victory last season, Olago says that their targets set out five years ago are still on as they host Impala Saracens at KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka at 3pm.

The KCB Sports Club in Ruaraka plays host to a double header with Kenyatta University’s Blak Blad taking on Mwamba in the first match at 1pm.

In other matches, Strathmore Leos will host fellow varsity side Masinde Muliro at The Cage in Madaraka while leaders Kabras Sugar welcome 17-time champions Nondescripts to the ASK Showground in Kakamega.

Menengai Oilers tackle Kenya Harlequin at the ASK Showground in Nakuru while Homeboyz will take on Nakuru in a match set for Jamhuri Park in Nairobi.

Olago, who has been with KCB Rugby for six seasons, winning Kenya Cup five times and losing once, said his players know their strategic plan. “We shall talk about something else after winning our fifth consecutive title,” said Olago, adding that KCB Rugby shall give the best shot in whichever conditions.

KCB Rugby got off to a good start beating Homeboyz 18-10 and Nakuru 62-5 respectively but their matches against Blak Blad and Mwamba were postponed.

In what was the most dramatic comeback in the recent past, KCB Rugby railed from 20-0 down to beat Kabras Sugar 28-25 to lift their eighth Kenya Cup trophy, four in a row.

Olago reckons that it has taken a lot of knowledge especially from South Africa over the years to see KCB Rugby stump their authority on the local scene.

More so, Olago explained that the hard work from players and adapting to new systems easily also contributed immensely to their dominance. 

“I have had good teachers from South Africa, whom I have kept tabs with. They have always kept me in check and made sure that I keep on improving every time,” said Olago, who singled out Western Province coaches, Hanyani Shimange, Jerome Paarwater and Rito Hlungwani.

Others are Stormers head coach John Dobson and Stormers lineout coach Russel Winter.

“They always keep giving me that information. They are only a call away and I always keep on referring to them when I am in need,” said Olago, adding that the strength to keep moving on when things are tough is what made them succeed.

Olago disclosed that coming up with a model that KCB wants to play has created a signature in their style of play.

“Improving on that game model all the time has been the greatest reason why we have kept on winning and improving,” explained Olago, adding that from the first Kenya Cup he won with KCB as a coach in 2015, they have always asked themselves what they can do better.

Olago said it has not been easy over the years with their rivals raiding their stable to get players. “There is a season where we lost close to 17 players but we kept on working with our second and third tiers so that we have them coming up as a group rather than individuals,” said Olago.

Developing their second and third teams has seen KCB Rugby boost their depth, which has seen them still win matches even when their experienced players are engaged elsewhere.

“For instance, last season, we didn’t have our key players like Davis Chenge and Martin Owila but still the likes of Rocky Anguko and Felix Ojoo did the job.

“Andrew Amonde and Oliver Mangeni came in at the tail end of business. It’s not about individuals but the system where we have different growth levels. We are handling our transition well,” said Olago, explaining that they don’t want to leave anyone behind in terms of growth.

Olago said the 2021 season was one of their toughest with frequent breaks owing to Covid-19 lockdown posing a big challenge.

Even though they didn’t have normal offseason and preseason, Olago indicated that they kept in touch with the players and never lost hope after their sponsors KCB Bank came in handy.

“The players’ fitness level was a major concern but we kept on sending information to the group so that they discuss and see what to do," said Olago, who praised his technical bench including strength and conditioning coach Mike Shamia, backs coach Mark Mshila and team manager Philip Wamae for the cohesion.

While Olago wants to keep away from commenting on how the game is handled in the country, he wants officiating improved by educating the referees more about the game.

“The same mistakes they let go in the leagues come to haunt us when the Kenya Simbas and Kenya Seven are out there,” said Olago.

Fixtures

Blak Blad v Mwamba (1pm), KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka

KCB v Impala Saracens (3pm), KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka

Strathmore Leos v Masinde Muliro (3pm), Strathmore University, Madaraka

Homeboyz v Nakuru (3pm), Jamhuri Park

Menengai Oilers v Harlequin (3pm), ASK Showground, Nakuru

Kabras Sugar v Nondescripts (3pm), ASK Showground, Kakamega 

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