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Kenya face tough opponents in Hong Kong

Revenge will be on the minds of Kenya Sevens players on Friday as they open their campaign at the Hong Kong Sevens against Mike Friday’s USA from 2:38pm.

Kenya will then wrap up their Pool D fixtures against England and Wales on Saturday at 6:12am and 10:14am respectively.

Kenya coach Felix Ochieng was Friday’s deputy during the 2012/2013 season before deputising South Africa’s Paul Treu for the 2013/2014 season.

Kenya has twice lost to Friday this season, 5-12 in Dubai and 5-33 at Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, South Africa, which was Treu’s last task for Kenya.

The South African quit just after the 2014/2015 season had started as Friday, who had started out for a season, took over the USA team.

Kenya beat USA 25-5 at last season’s London Sevens preliminaries on their way to a 14-38 loss to South Africa in the Plate final.

The victory underscored Kenya’s dominance over the USA last season. The two teams met twice with the Kenyans winning both matches.

Kenya beat the Americans 31-5 at Gold Coast with Ochieng as the acting head coach after Friday’s departure. On the other hand, Kenya has lost twice to England and Wales this season.

They went down to England 0-38 and 12-21 at the pool stage in Dubai and USA respectively. They lost to Wales 19-24 in Gold Coast and 5-29 in South Africa.

With their chance of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics through the World Rugby Sevens Series gone, Ochieng’s focus now is to guide the team from the relegation zone.

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Kenya is currently placed 12th in the Series with 29 points but must finish among the top 10 teams from the remaining four legs to avoid relegation next season.

Kenya started the season awfully but reached their first Cup quarters in Wellington before winning Bowl final in USA.

Now Ochieng hopes to build on the momentum gained from the last two legs as he welcomes back former skipper Humphrey Kayange and his younger Collins Injera into the team.

“We are doing catch up but our opponents have been together for a long time. There have been great improvements in the last two legs but we need to build on that for consistency. Self-belief will also be key to our progress,” said Kayange.

Kayange makes a return after getting injured during the Commonwealth games in Glasgow in July last year.

Kenya Sevens won Shield, beating Portugal 17-10 in the final in Hong Kong last year.

They had finished fourth the previous season after losing to New Zealand 5-36 in the play-off.

“We will give it our all since Hong Kong has special memories for the team, having finished fourth in 2012/2013. Anything can happen,” said strength and conditioning coach Graham Bentz.

“We have had soft rains but it’s quite humid as normal. We should expect a rainy weekend which we are ready for.”

Friday fixtures:
England v Wales (1:10pm), France v Japan (1:32pm), Australia v Portugal (1:54pm), Canada v Belgium (2:16pm), USA v Kenya (2:38pm), South Africa v Argentina (3pm), New Zealand v Scotland (3:22pm), Fiji v Samoa (3:44pm)

Saturday fixtures:
Kenya v England (6:12am), Kenya v Wales (10.14am)