Namibia’s World Cup Quest Begins Against Kenya

Namibia’s quest to qualify for a fifth successive Rugby World Cup starts in earnest on Saturday when they take on a powerful Kenyan side in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

It will be the first of three qualifying matches, with the others being against Zimbabwe and Madagascar over the next week, with the overall winner qualifying for next year’s global showpiece in England.

Kenyan rugby has improved a lot over the past few years, and when the two countries met in Windhoek in November last year, Namibia was pushed all the way before winning the match 55-35.

Since then, Kenya competed in the South African Vodacom Cup series, where they picked up valuable experience despite only winning one match.

The parity between Namibia and Kenya was illustrated earlier this month after both teams played against Western Province in practise matches, with Kenya losing 32-28 in Nairobi and Namibia winning 32-30 in Windhoek.

Kenya have also included several of their Sevens rugby stars in their lineup for tomorrows match like Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde, Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Michael Agevi and Patrice Agunda, and according to coach Jerome Paarwater they are fit and ready for the match against Namibia.

“This is a big opportunity for the team. It is journey we have undertaken for the past two years and the side is raring to go into the qualifiers and do the nation proud,” he said.

Before the Namibian team’s departure from Windhoek on Wednesday, coach Danie Vermeulen said they were ready for Kenya.

“We can either focus on Kenya or we can focus on what we want to do, so we are really focussed on what we want to do on Saturday. We’ve got a good idea of how they play – they just play off your mistakes, so we must make sure that we don’t give them ball from turnovers.

“We’ll have to be really structured on Saturday and hope we don’t make any mistakes. If we can put a few phases together and get good scrums and line-outs, then we can put them under pressure,” he said.

Namibia gave a great defensive display in their 34-13 defeat to the Blue Bulls last Saturday, but Vermeulen said that Kenya would present a different challenge.

“Against Kenya it will be a whole different ball game because they take you from one side to the other side of the field, so we’ll be a bit more stretched on defence, but hopefully the guys can stick to their guns like they did last weekend and maybe we can put another good performance on defence against Kenya.”

Vermeulen meanwhile made two changes and two positional changes to the team for Saturday’s match, with captain and vice captain PJ van Lill and Theuns Kotze returning from injury in place of Renaldo Bothma and Heinrich Smit respectively.

Bothma, who was the man of the match against the Bulls, moves to the flank in place of Tinus du Plessis, who replaces Morne Blom at lock.

Kotze replaces Heinrich Smit at flyhalf, with Smit moving to the wing in place of Johan Tromp.

Du Plessis has excelled as a lineout jumper in recent matches and his move to lock, as well as the inclusion of Bothma should add more pace to the pack.

The back line displayed great defensive abilities against the Bulls, while players like David Philander and Chrysander Botha pose a big threat with their attacking play.

The return of Kotze at flyhalf is however the most important as he is a match winner with his accurate place and tactical kicking.

Vermeulen said the Bulls game had also given more depth to the squad.

“We wanted to give the guys who came in from outside a chance to play and to prove to us what they can do and I think Renaldo did very well and David Philander also did very well. So we are very happy with the guys coming in from outside Namibia, they give us some options and also extra depth in the squad,” he said.

The match starts at 11h00 Namibian time and will be televised live on SuperSport 9.

The Namibian team is as follows:

Chrysander Botha, David Philander, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, Heinrich Smit, Theuns Kotze, Arthur Bouwer, PJ van Lill (captain), Renaldo Bothma, Rohan Kitshoff, Tinus du Plessis, Munee Tjiueza, Andre Schlechter, Rathony Becker and Jaco Engels.

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Latest comments

Good luck you guys, make us proud. – Pierre A Pienaar | 2014-06-27 09:12:00 || Comment id: 43131

Go do us proud boys..we all know u can reach the WORLD CUP again..!Go Welwitchias.. – MaB | 2014-06-27 08:48:00 || Comment id: 43116

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Source : The Namibian