Nairobi — The national 15s team has been dealt with a major blow after illness ruled out experienced captain Wilson Kopondo out of the opening season assignment away in Kampaka against Uganda in the first leg of the Elgon Cup on Saturday.
This was confirmed by head coach Ian Snook who named his squad on Tuesday morning, comprising of regulars Darwin Mukidza from KCB and will be skippered by Davis Chenge assisted by Samson Onsomu.
However, there were five new blood in the squad that comprised of Patrick Ouko, Malcolm Onsando , Andrew Chogo, Xavier Bett and Joseph Odero of Kabras.
Also in the squad are Jacob Ojee (KCB), Peter Karia (KCB), Vincent Mose (Impala), Curtis Lilako (KCB), Tony Onyango (Homeboyz) and Martin Owilah (KCB).
The Elgon Cup return leg will be played on July 7 in Nairobi and will double as Africa Gold Cup. Kenya won the 2017 Elgon Cup with an aggregate of 56-51 victory courtesy of first leg's 23-18 win in Kampala and a 33-33 draw in Nairobi.
The 2019 World Cup qualifiers for Africa region will be played in a round robin format with the top team after five rounds getting the sole ticket.
Kenya opens their campaign away to Morocco on June 23 before hosting Zimbabwe and Uganda in Nairobi on June 30 and July 7 respectively.
There will be a one-month break to pave way for Sevens World Cup before the qualifiers resume for the last two rounds when Kenya will take on Tunisia on Saturday August 11 at home and head to Namibia for the final game on Saturday August 18.
Namibia won the qualifiers in 2014 to head to the World Cup. Runner up in the 2018 edition will head to a four-team global repechage.
The four repechage teams will play a round-robin to decide which country will draw into Pool B in Japan with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Africa 1.
Both Kenya and Uganda dropped a position each, to 30 and 35 respectively, in the latest World Rugby Rankings released on Monday 21 May 2018.
The positional drops for the neighboring foes were directly necessitated by weekend wins by Chile and Lithuania who were some of the winners at the weekend.
With Kenya and Uganda facing off before the next rankings release, Kenya has a chance of rising or Uganda can reduce the gap between them and their East Africa rivals.
Both Men's and Women's World Rugby Rankings are calculated using a 'Points Exchange' system, in which sides take points off each other based on the match result. Whatever one side gains, the other loses.
Patrick Ouko*(Homeboyz), Philip Ikambili (Homeboyz), Joseph Odero* (Kabras), Malcolm Onsando* (Quins), Oliver Mang'eni (KCB), George Nyambua (Kabras), Elkeans Musonye (Strathmore), Tony Onyango (Homeboyz), Martin Owilah (KCB), Samson Onsomu (Impala), Isaac Adimo (Quins), Leo Seje (Impala), Peter Kilonzo (KCB), Darwin Mukidza, Jacob Ojee (KCB), Peter Karia (KCB), Vincent Mose (Impala), Curtis Lilako (KCB), Andrew Chogo* (Kabras), Davis Chenge (KCB), Xavier Bett* (Impala), Biko Adema (Nondies), Oscar Simiyu (KCB)
Management: Ian Snook (Head Coach), Murray Roulston (Assistant Coach), Dominique Habimana (Forwards Coach), Richard Ochieng (Conditioning Coach), Christopher Makachia (Physio), Simiyu Wangila (Team Manager)
-By Raga House-