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Kenya: Namibia, Kenya in Grudge Match

CHRYSANDER Botha wants his young charges to stick to the game plan when Namibia face host Kenya in arguably their toughest test of the 2022 Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy.

Both sides scored commanding wins in their opening matches, with Namibia whitewashing Ivory Coast 62-0 as Kenya overpowered neighbours Uganda 54-20.

The main cup semi-final is billed as the final before the final, with fireworks are expected inside Nairobi's Nyayo Stadium.

Botha was naturally delighted for the opening day victory, which settled the team into the tournament but felt their general play was somewhat off tangent.

Namibia can ill afford to lose focus against the buoyant hosts who dethroned them in 2020, he said.

"We couldn't really play according to our structures. The boys got a bit loose in the game because of the opposition we faced and the way they played of being disruptive and not playing as per instructions. So, it was a bit difficult," Botha said of their performance versus Ivory Coast.

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He expects similar spoiling tactics mixed with brute force from Kenya today. The match between Kenya and Uganda was very physical, Botha observed.

After a relatively even first half which ended 11-10 in favour of the home side, the Kenyans adopted a faster game which created overlaps on the wings to run in the points and the result on the day.

Combating that physical approach while maximising their skill set, especially with the ball in hand, will give Namibia an advantage, Botha said.

"The Ugandans tried their utmost best but at the end of the day, they were overpowered by the physicality of the Kenyans and dominating the contact and collision areas a ruck time and so forth," he noted.

Botha said the Ugandans' spirited first half display exposed Kenya's weaknesses, priceless insight which should not be lost on his side.

"It's a good blueprint that they gave us, the Ugandans. We'll have to be good in defence, we'll have to get off the line and put their attack under pressure just to get off the line in order to get off the advantage line. It's going to take a massive effort," said Botha.

Kenya's threat comes from their loose forwards who are big ball carriers who put the team on the front foot by getting momentum in the contact. The hosts' centres and flyhalf are the other danger men that Namibia need to be wary of, Botha said in his analysis.

He has made the relevant tweaks to the team to counter the bulldozing Kenyans.

"We've made a couple of changes in the back in order to negate the physicality and just to put more structure in the way we play," the Namibian coach said.

"We just look forward to the match. The way we've prepared is to stay in the physical battle, and make our one on one tackles, and once we do get opportunities to run off turnovers, we take them.

"We need to use the ball efficiently and maximise opportunities to put points on the board."

The other semi-final sees Zimbabwe, who edged out Tunisia 19-18, face Madagascar, who beat Zambia 26-14, to determine who makes it to the grand finale of the continental competition.

Just before the last four action, there will be two games featuring the losing quarter-finalists as Cote d'Ivoire take on Uganda in the first match of the day, followed by Tunisia against Zambia.

Placement semi-finals: Cote d'Ivoire v Uganda (08h00); Tunisia v Zambia (10h30)

Main cup semi-final: Namibia v Kenya (14h00); Zimbabwe v Madagascar (16h30)

Artmotion S.Africa

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