Defending Champions Kenya opened their U20 Barthes Trophy campaign with a huge 50-3 win over Senegal on Saturday 26 June 2021 and will be looking to replicate the same performance when they face Madagascar in the last fixture of this year’s tournament.
Kenya unlike Madagascar has been in camp for almost three weeks and the Team Manager, former Kenyan International scrum-half Peter Mutai believes this will work to their advantage.
“The camp has been good; we have gotten to be together for the past three weeks. We have worked on our systems and polished the mistakes we made against Senegal and we are now working on a system to take on Madagascar,” says Mutai.
Chipu sat out last weekend’s game and Mutai is confident they have enough knowledge on Madagascar’s game to develop a winning formula. “The team, as well as the technical bench, has watched Madagascar’s game against Senegal and it has helped us in preparing,” adds Mutai.
The game on Sunday will be a winner takes it all kind of game and the defending champions are not taking any chances. “We are leaving nothing to chance. Madagascar is better than Senegal so we expect a really tough game. We are really prepared,” says Mutai.
Physicality and dominance have been pillars of the Kenyan game for years and that might just be on display again this weekend. “We want to be very brutal in our set-pieces and very clinical in our finishing,” says Mutai.
Senegal gave Kenya a run for their money in the first half of their game. This time round, Mutai is hoping for a different approach from the start.
“Sometimes it takes a while to get going and the team might find it difficult to score. We are hoping for a quicker and faster start this weekend. That is why we have named a strong starting fifteen and an even stronger bench,” says Mutai.
Kenya will be using this tournament as preparation for next year’s Junior World Trophy. There is really no pressure to perform according to the former Kenya International. “The boys have come a long way; the coaches have done a great job. We know some boys will leave the team after the tournament but we still have a core of around fifteen players we will build on next year. So far we do not really feel any pressure.”
“For us it is all about the system. The system helps you beat defenses as well as build defenses. The system also helps you score points that is why we are keen on developing our very own full-functional system of play,” concludes Mutai.
The final ranking will be determined after the game. Kenya will take on Madagascar in the 1.30 pm kick-off on Sunday at the Nyayo National Stadium in what has been dubbed the “Super Sunday.”
-James Njenga/U20 Barthes Trophy Media Team