Kenya shock Morocco in Africa cup rugby


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June 27 2007

Kenya upset Morocco 23-16 in the Africa Cup – the Confederation of African Rugbys premier tournament – at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa ground in Nairobi on Saturday to throw wide open group A in the North pool.

Despite missing key players in the backs because of fatigue and injury to the national seven-a-side players, Kenya soaked up pressure and opened up the game in the second half to beat the highly ranked Moroccans.

Resilience in the second half after Ugandan referee Ramsey Olinga yellow carded Kenya captain and prop Daniel Kiptoo on 56 minutes won the day in a bruising second half, which also saw Moroccos outstanding centre Mouaad Labi sin-binned late on.

It was the Moroccans, captained by number 8 Abdellatif Boutati, who drew the first blood in the second minute when fly half Thomas Janik stroked over a penalty. The visitors dominated the opening 15 minutes, confining Kenya in their half by keeping the ball tight and surprising the East Africans with speed in the open.

Boutati and scrum half Adil Achabar did the damage in the first half. Quick exchanges between these two players often split open the home sides back row, which kept Kenyas new coach Michael ‘Tank Otieno on the edge of his seat.

Missed chances in the first half by both teams kept the scores low. Janik kicked a drop goal in the second minute, but his opposite number Peter Mutai failed to level the scores one minute later. He was to miss two crucial penalties before being replaced in the second half.

Competitive encounter

Morocco dictated the pace, relying on their heavy forwards to secure possession and set their speedy back in motion. We expected them to slow down the game in the forwards, but adjusted well in the second by opening the game,” Otieno explained.

Former captain Derrick Wamalwa, who was a pillar of strength in the Kenya pack, caught the Morocco back row napping and dummied his way under the posts in the 18th minute. Mutal converted as the lead changed hands to 7-3 in Kenyas favour.

Morocco suffered an early setback when wing Akram Rhaili Anwar was stretchered off in the 23rd minute with a knee injury. His replacement Adil Madouche did a good job, but could not penetrate the tight Kenya defence.

The lead changed hands for the second time when Abdlkafi Abachri barged over from a scrum five metres out. Janik missed the conversion as Morocco narrowly led 8-7. He also missed a penalty in the 33rd minute.

Morocco changed the approach by kicking high balls for the wings to chase or to get the forwards within a striking position. Mutai missed another kickable penalty in the 37th minute but slotted one two minutes later to give Kenya a 10-8 lead at half time.

Kenya came back forcefully in the second half and it took only a minute before fly half Lavin Asego kicked a cheeky drop goal. The former Kenya Sevens captain received the ball from Mutai and froze before picking his spot from the edge of 22.

A quick reply by Morocco saw Janiks penalty in front of the posts graze the left upright before sliding in to narrow the gap to 13-11 in Kenyas favour. Kiptoo, though, was given a yellow card in the 15th minute of this half, which weakened the Kenyan front row.

Flyhalf Lavin Asego gets the backline going

Semi final dream on track

Morocco went into the lead in the 69th minute from a well-worked move by the backs, which saw Mouaad Labi over. He missed the conversion but Morocco still led 16-13.

The try sent Kenya into over-drive. Victor Sudi powered his way over the line in the 71st minute for a hotly contested try, which put the home side back in the lead 18-16. Asego attempted a drop goal from 40 metres out as desperation for a clear lead set in.

When Labi was sin-binned for stamping in the 76th minute, Kenya took advantage of the numerical advantage to strike deep in the Moroccan half.

Asego kicked the ball for touch, Michael Aung retrieved the ball from a lineout and the forwards drove their much heavier opponents up to the five metre line. They were awarded a penalty from which Paul Oimbo scored the decisive try.

Kiptoo said the win meant Kenya was only a heartbeat away from reaching the semi finals with a match against Cameroon in Yaounde on 7 July. The players wanted to win. We have now beaten all the big teams and are ready for Cameroon,” the 23-year-old prop said.

Coach Otieno is upbeat and said he will not change a winning combination: We took long to settle and did not play the kind of game we wanted.”


KENYA: 15 Nato Simiyu, 14 Naftali Bondo, 13 Allan Onyango, 12 Brian Nyikuli, 11 Victor Sudi, 10 Lavin Asego 9 Peter Mutai, 8 Paul Oimbo, 7 Pascal Wetukha, 6 Antony Ogot, 5 Paul Murunga, 4 Michael Aung, 3 Derrick Wamalwa, 2 Edwin Alubaka, 1 Daniel Kiptoo (captain).

Replacements: 16 Joel Nganga, 17 Vincent Ongera, 18 Arnold Odera, 19 Lewis Olaka, 20 Moses Kola, 21 Sydney Nderitu, and 22 Mark Mshila.

MOROCCO: 15 Nassim Arif, 14 Akram Rhaili Anwar, 13 Jawad Eziyar, 12 Mouaad Labi, 11 Hassan Aissaoui, 10 Thomay Janik, 9 Adil Achabar, 8 Abdellatif Boutati (captain), 7 Youssef Choui, 6 Abdelhak Hamda, 5 Othmane Hamda, 4 Abdelhak Myane, 3 Ben Chrief My Faysal, 2 Abdlkafi Abachri, 1 Mounir El Hamzaoui.

Replacements: 16 Moumen Feth Allah, 17 El Mir My Youssef, 18 Mohsine Boudisse, 19 Soufiane Taydi, 20 Amir Ellamti, 21 Adil Madouche, 22 Khalid Nemli.

Referee: Ramsey Olinga (Uganda)
Touch judges: Steven Ojambo, M. Muhame (Uganda).
Match Commissioner: Bruce Hobson (Zimbabwe).

For Kenya:
Tries: Derrick Wamalwa, Victor Sudi, Paul Oimbo
Conversion: Peter Mutai
Penalties: Peter Mutai
Drop Goal: Lavin Asego.

For Morocco:
Tries: Abdlkafi Abachri, Mouaad Labi.
Penalties: Thomas Janik
Drop Goal: Thomas Janik

Yellow Cards: Daniel Kiptoo (Kenya), Mouaad Labi (Morocco)