Namibia expect physical battle against Kenya for Rugby World Cup place
|Venue: Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence Date: Sunday, 10 July Kick-off: 18:00 BST|
Coach Allister Coetzee says Namibia are ready for the challenge awaiting them when they take on Kenya in the Rugby Africa Cup final.
The winners of the tournament in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday will qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“We are playing against a very physical Kenyan side – they’re quite big, physical players,” Coetzee told BBC Sport Africa.
“They have a fantastic scrum-half and the inside centre is also a dangerous ball carrier, but we have got to stick to what we do best.
“First and foremost, I want to make sure that the team is fresh, the team is well rested and recovered, and field the best possible team again. We are excited and we’re looking forward to it.”
Namibia made their World Cup debut in 1999 and are aiming for a seventh successive appearance at the final.
The Welwitschias strolled past Zimbabwe 34-19 in their semi-final on Wednesday, but Coetzee says they must improve on one particular aspect of their game when they face Kenya.
“Going to the final, we must be better in our kicking game,” Coetzee added.
“We went off program a bit [against Zimbabwe] and there were way too many wayward kicks outside of our plan and structure. We have got to tidy that up.”
The winners of Sunday’s final will line up alongside hosts France, three-time champions New Zealand, Italy and Uruguay in Pool A next year.
Simbas coach calls for ‘clinical’ performance
Kenya, meanwhile, are hoping to reach the World Cup for the first time – but must overcome a side ranked 24th in the world, nine places above them.
Kenya have not beaten Namibia since 2014 and suffered their fifth successive defeat to the Welwitschias in South Africa last November, losing 60-24.
However, the Simbas led that match in Stellenbosch 24-19 at half-time and coach Paul Odera believes they will provide sterner opposition this weekend having warmed up for the Rugby Africa Cup by competing in the Currie Cup.
“We are going to look to borrow some of the things that were successful for us in November,” Odera told BBC Sport Africa.
“We have got to be clinical at the breakdown and give away less penalties, particularly in areas where Namibia can get territorial position and use their very effective maul.
“We need to stay in the contest for 80 minutes. In November we were leading at half-time and then Namibia blew us away.
“Our focus is to play for 80 minutes. If we do that we will have a good chance of qualifying.”
Although the Rugby Africa Cup winners will be guaranteed a ticket to France 2023, Sunday’s losers will have another chance to get to the tournament.
The runners-up in Aix-en-Provence will progress to a four-nation intercontinental knock-out in November for the final qualifying place at the World Cup.