Kenya Simbas stalk Portugal Wolves in World Cup qualifier

Kenya Simbas

Namibia's flanker Wian Conradie (left) scores his team's second try during the Rugby Africa Cup rugby union final match against Kenya at the Maurice David Stadium in Aix-en-Provence, southeastern France, on July 10, 2022.

Photo credit: Christophe Simon | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Kenya and Portugal renew rivalry in World Cup qualifier

Kenya “Simbas” pray for a reprieve when they take on Portugal “Wolves” in their second match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) final qualification tournament on Satuday at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

While the “Simbas” go into the match limping, after they fell to the United States of America Eagles 68-14 in their opening match on Sunday, Portugal will be riding on their 42-14 victory against Hong Kong the same day to shine.

The last time Kenya met Portugal was during their Test match in 2015 in Nairobi when the “Simbas” tore the “Wolves” apart 41-15. It’s the time fullback Darwin Mukidza and winger Jacob Ojee made international debuts.

Coach Paul Odera has made 12 changes to the side that lost to the “Eagles” as he handed Homeboyz half back Amon Wamalwa his full international debut.

 Wamalwa, 21, who starts at fly half, will make full start alongside 19-year-Joshua Weru, who came off the bench to score his try on debut on Sunday.

Samuel Asati has moved from scrum half to fullback with Thomas Okeyo shifting from lock to blindside flank. Malcolm Onsando will captain after taking over the armband from Daniel Sikuta who has been rested after he suffered a concussion in the clash against the USA.

Peter Kilonzo, Clinton Odhiambo, Samson Onsomu and Ian Masheti will make their first appearances in the tournament from a bench that has Eugene Sifuna, Andrew Siminyu, George Nyambua and Geoffrey Okwatch, who all played last Sunday.

“Simbas” assistant coach Mike Aung said they have done the rotation opting for a quick pack and backline.

Kenya take on Portugal from 3pm (Kenyan time) and USA face Hong Kong from 5.30pm.