Hopes were high when Kenya Sevens team flew to USA for the 2018 Rugby World Cup.
Many expected the national team to carry the impressive World Series form into the global show piece in San Francisco and either replicate the semi-finals’ heroics in Dubai (2009) and Moscow (2013) or even go a place higher.
However, that never came to pass as two moments of madness in yesterday’s morning pre-quarter-final match against Scotland at the AT&T Park shattered their dreams and left many Shujaa fans across the globe heartbroken.
Hundreds of fans across the country, who were glued to their TV screens in pubs and homes in the wee hours, were forced to drown their sorrows as Kenya’s World Cup effort came to a dramatic end.
They threw away a 26-0 halftime lead to lose 26-31 in the round of 16 of the newly introduced ‘unforgiving’ innovative format.
The AT&T Park must have looked like the loneliest place ever for Samuel Oliech and Samuel Ngethe whose indiscipline cost Kenya a quarter-finals ticket on their World Cup debut.
That is a match, the duo would definitely not like to remember as their ‘silly’ errors allowed the Scots to round off one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament’s history.
Kenya had taken an early lead through four unanswered tries by Collins Injera, Nelson Oyoo, William Ambaka and Jeff Oluoch. Innocent Simiyu’s boys were in control and were indeed poised to set-up a quarter-final date with South Africa.
But a split minutes of malice, a knock out match spoiled for one side and saved for another as the an unexpected happened; two Shujaa players, Oliech and Ngethe were sin-binned in succession.
Oliech was sent off first for a high tackle before Ngethe followed for throwing the ball away.
And it seems that’s exactly the moment Scotland were waiting for.
The Europeans, who were then trailing 28-17 at the death, clinically capitalised on their numerical advantage to oust the former Singapore Sevens champions and relegate them to the Challenge Trophy.
Just like Shujaa fans across the world, a visibly dejected Collins Injera couldn’t believe as he held his head in his hands after Jamie Farndale scored the match-winning try in the last play of the game.
Kenya, who were due to play Ireland in the Challenge quarter-finals last night (12.04am) had made dream start to the tournament by beating Tonga 19-7 in the preliminary round.