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Why Kenya could miss key players at Africa U20 event

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Timothy Okwemba (center) of Menengai Oilers battles with Western Bulls players during the Kenya cup match played at Nakuru Ask show ground on February 1,2020.Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard Coach Odera hopes normalcy will resume soon so that his men are not rendered ineligible for the continental showpiece.

Kenya rugby under-20 coach Paul Odera has expressed fears that some of his key players could be rendered ineligible for the Barthes Cup, if the coronavirus crisis persists. The Barthes Cup, which is Africa’s rugby 15s competition reserved for players aged 20 and below, was initially scheduled for April 19 to 26 in Nairobi, but the event was postponed indefinitely after the first case of the coronavirus pandemic was reported in Kenya.

According to stipulations laid down by Rugby Africa, only players who were aged below 20 as of January this year, are eligible to compete and this means several Kenyan youngsters could be locked out, if the tournament fails to take place within 2020.

Kabras Sugar scrum-half Barry Robinson, who celebrates his 21st birthday in August as well as Nondescripts’ Brian Amaitsa, are some of the players who might be affected.

Emmanuel Silungi of Homeboyz and Menengai Oilers winger Timothy Okwemba will also turn 21 this year. Get the latest sports news updates. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting ‘SPORTS’ to 22840.

“It will be a huge blow since the boys have been waiting for the tournament because they know they are part of the squad. It will also offer a chance to more players who have not been in the team to step up,” Odera told Standard Sports. Odera said they are in the process of rolling out an online training programme which will assist the players maintain their fitness levels while at home. “We intend to put them into small groups and train remotely since some of them travelled up-country while others are outside Kenya.

It is something that has not only affected the players but also the management,” said Odera.

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