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RWC Qualifiers: Kenya Simbas vs Namibia preview

Kenya Simbas in a past clash,. Photo Courtesy/World Rugby.
Kenya Simbas in a past clash,. Photo Courtesy/World Rugby.

Kenya Simbas and Namibia will head down to Aix-en-Stade Provence’s Maurice David knowing that whoever wins Sunday’s Rugby Africa Cup final would earn a place in Pool A at the Rugby World Cup 2023, with hosts France, New Zealand, Italy, and Uruguay.

The loser, meanwhile, will compete in the Final Qualification Tournament in November. This will be the 14th encounter between these two teams, with the Simbas winning only two of the previous 13. Simbas have a 15.38% win rate, with their most recent victory coming in 2014 at the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in Antananarivo.

Since then, the Simbas have lost five straight games against Namibians, including a 60-24 defeat at the Stellenbosch Challenge in South Africa in 2021. The Simbas blew a 24-19 halftime advantage and surrendered 41 unanswered points in the second half.

Namibia enjoy an 84.62% win rate in this encounter and have scored 664 and conceded 249 in the previous 13 encounters against Simbas. They have scored an average of 51.07 points per match and have conceded 19.15 points per match against the Simbas in the 13 encounters.

Head to Head Record

2021: Namibia 60-24 Kenya Simbas – Stellenbosch

2018: Namibia 53-28 Kenya Simbas– Windhoek

2017: Namibia 45-7 Kenya Simbas– Windhoek

2016: Namibia 56-21 Kenya Simbas– Windhoek

2015: Namibia 46-13 Kenya Simbas– Windhoek

2014: Namibia 22-29 Kenya Simbas– Antananarivo

2013: Namibia 55-35 Kenya Simbas – Windhoek

2006: Kenya Simbas 30-26 Namibia – Nairobi

2006:Namibia 84-12 Kenya Simbas – Windhoek

2004: Namibia 65-7 Kenya Simbas  – Windhoek

2003: Kenya Simbas 10-38 Namibia – Nairobi

2003: Kenya Simbas 10-32 Namibia –Nairobi

1993: Kenya Simbas 9 -60 Namibia – Nairobi

Kenya Simbas 

Head Coach Paul Odera feels the Simbas have a stronger chance of qualifying for the first-ever World Cup going into this match.  Odera told World Rugby that “A number of factors give me confidence. One is how well we did in the first half last year.”

“But you’ve got to remember that since November, we have a much more battle-hardened side, because we’ve been to the Currie Cup. We’ve trained as a team for three months together.

“OK, we had to do quite a bit of juggling between players in school and work commitments, etc. but the tight-five were in South Africa uninterrupted for two months, getting fit and strong. And that is really the biggest difference between November and now.”

“We are a lot fitter and a lot better conditioned to deal with an outfit like Namibia. So, I think we’re in with a good chance.”

“We don’t fear Namibia, we respect them massively. I mean, they are a team to be respected on the African continent [but] fear, no.”

Since leaving South Africa, Simbas are on a four-match winning streak, having defeated Leopards 51-35 and then the Eastern Province Elephants 41-24 in the last two training games. In Marseille, the side brushed aside Uganda Cranes 42-7 in the quarters before they edged Algeria 36-33 in the semis to reach final.  From this matches, the Simbas have shown glimpses of hope staging comebacks in wins against Eastern Province and Algeria .

The simbas have scored an average of 42.5 points in their last four matches, meaning there is an improvement in matters attack which will be onne of the crucial areas against Namibia.  In defence they have conceded an average of 24.75 points per match in the last four outings with the Ugandan match being the lone match that they let in less than 20 points.

As they head to the match, the Simbas have been boosted by the return of Vincent Onyala who scored a brace in the 60-24 loss to Namibia and Collins Injera who was part of the squad that won 29-22 eight years ago. The two sat out when the Simbas defeated Algeria on Wednesday.

Odera has eight members from the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers squad that lost 53-28 to Namibia in Windhoek.  17 also played in 2021 loss in the Stellenbosch Challenge and this means they understand what kind of opponent they will be up against.

The Simbas heads to this full of confidence and will be keen to beat Namibia on a neutral ground to reach maiden World Cup.

Namibia

After losing 24-13 to Ivory Coast in July 2021, Namibia rose to beat Madagascar 52-10 to reach the quarterfinals. Namibia then defeated Kenya Simbas 60-24 and Zimbabwe Sables 41-10 to win the Stellenbosch Challenge in 2021. In 2022 they warmed up for this tournament with a 36-19 win over Stellenbosch University while in this tournament they have defeated Burkina Faso 71-5 while they beat Zimbabwe Sables in a tight semi-final match played on Wednesday to get this final.

The Welwitschias have been more clinical in the second half in the last four matches and will be keen to continue with the trend against the Simbas.

Allister has handed nine players who were part of the 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup a start against Simbas.  The nine are  Thorsten van Jaarsveld, Johan Retief, Wian Conradie, Janco Venter, Adriaan Booysen, Daman Stevens, Cliven Loubser, Johan Deysel, Greyling and Louis van der Westhuizen.

Prince Gaoseb who was also part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been named on the bench.

Buoyed by the perfect record against the Simbas, the Welwitschias will be hopeful of qualifying for their seventh World Cup.

Both teams understand how being disciplined in defence and clinical in attack could shape this clash.  Both have proved to effective in attack in the recent matches played and will be keen to carry the scoring form to this match. Simbas will be hoping to improve on lineouts, set pieces defence to be able to stop Namibia.

Players to watch 

Cliven Loubser was key when the Namibia picked a 60-24 win over Kenya Simbas. He punished the Simbas with his decisive and timely kicks among other playmaking abilities and Namibia will be banking on him to deliver another win over Simbas. Odera on his part will be wary of his kicks and  will hope his back three will be alert all through.

Allister Coetzee will also be looking at centre and captain Deysel, 30, who has represented his country during the 2015 competition and 2019 the edition held in Japan three years ago to lead the side back to another World Cup.

John Okoth, a former Kenya Under-20 international, has been key in the previous two games. The Simbas’ leading try scorer is the tre, who has four tries. He scored twice in the victories over Uganda and Algeria. He has proven to be lethal from close range in addition to being explosive and fast.

John Kubu comes off the bench and will have a chance to monitor the game before going on, so he will know where to attack the opponents. Injera and other experienced players like as Sikuta and Malcolm Onsando will be looked upon for leadership and direction in this vital match.

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