Preview: Morocco vs Kenya Simbas

Kenya Simbas begin their Africa Gold Cup hunt when they travel to Morocco to face the hosts on Saturday 23 June at COC Rugby in Casablanca starting 7:00pm. 
While Simbas will be playing their first match, the North Africans have already had a feel of the competition as they managed to hold Zimbabwe to a 23-all stalemate in the opening match at the Harare Sports Club last Saturday.
With this year’s competition acting as a qualifying campaign to the 2019 Rugby World Cup slated for Japan,Simbas travel to Morocco knowing that a win will be enough to keep up the pace with runaway leaders Namibia who put 55 points past Uganda on match day one.
Head to head
The sides have met three times before with the Morrocans enjoying a superior head to head record as they have won two with their only loss being  in 2007 when they succumbed to a 33-16 defeat in Nairobi.
Kenya will be seeking to make history by recording their first win on Moroccan soil.On 7 May 2005,Simbas’ visit to the North saw them lose 29-3 before going down 29-11 in 2009.
As per the latest rankings released by World Rugby on Monday 18 June, Morocco is ranked 38th; ten places below their Saturday opponents
The hosts will rely on their key players in scrum-half Ismail Nassik, full-back Jaoudat Souheyl and Hmidouch Chakir on Saturday evening.Chakir was named man of the match in their last outing against the Zimbabwe Sables.
“Zimbabwe was difficult to beat. We need to work on retaining the ball when going into contact and play a faster game. We will work on our mistakes in preparation for our game against Kenya,”Pierre Chadebech the Morocco head coach is quoted by Rugby Afrique.
Kenya have named five uncapped players in their matchday 23 with two of them in Kabras Sugar’s Coleman Were and Strathmore’s Edmund Anya receiving the nod to start.Homeboyz trio of Zeden Marrow, Max Kang’eri and Mohammed Omollo will play off the bench.
Ian Snook will look upto the youthful exuberance of Anya on the blindside wing as well as the experience of Darwin Mukidza, Biko Adema and Davis Chenge to hand him a winning start in the Gold Cup.
Positional changes in the side have seen Mukidza deployed at an unusual fly half position as Adema moves to full back.Philip Ikambili who regularly features at hooker starts at the backrow.

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