Kenya Cup sides Kenya Harlequin and Strathmore Leos will leave nothing to chance against their first round opponents of the Enterprise Cup slated for Saturday.
Quins head coach Charles Cardovillis is glad to have Aluda Beda rejoin the rich Quins’ backline as they face Ngong RFC at the RFUEA grounds.
Beda, who has been out for two weeks owing to an injury, teams up with Frank Wanyama on the wings while Ugandan international Jasper Ochena and Kenyan international William Ambaka start at centre.
Ambaka, who started at wing against Impala Saracens last weekend, replaces David Ambunya, who has been rested at the backline that will have Lyle Asiligwa once again at fullback.
“I have basically retained the same squad that featured at Kenya Cup since I don’t want to lose the rhythm,” said Cardovillis, who will be facing Kenya Cup leaders Kabras Sugar in their next assignment. “What I have done is to have those who have been coming off the bench to start.”
Cardovillis said they respect Ngong despite their underdog status. “They have a good chance to play some of Kenya’s finest players and for sure they will bring their best show,” said Cardovillis.
The winner of the match will face defending champions Homeboyz in the second round on March 9 at the Jamhuri Park showground.
John Mbai has also maintained his squad but will be without four players, who are out due to injuries or work commitments as they face Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at Madaraka.
Fullback Motoka Motoka, winger Albert Obuya and front row Maurice Omollo have been ruled out by injury and have been replaced by Gideon Makumi, John Juma and Jack Agoa respectively. Abdi Mohammed has also replaced Barry Guda, who is out with work commitment.
With Makumi moving to wing, former Mwamba player Joe Otieno takes his place at fullback on his debut.
“This is almost a varsity derby where forms goes out of the window with the perceived dark horses bringing out their best game,” said Mbai. “I have made shift slight positional shifts owing to the injuries and we are good to go.”
The winner will meet last year’s losing finalist Impala Saracens in the second round.
Two other Kenya Cup sides Menengai Oilers and Mean Machine from the University of Nairobi will also be involved in the first round matches that has 16 teams.
Menengai Oilers host Catholic University’s Monks at the Nakuru Showground with the winner meeting Nondies in the second round.
Machine and Masinde Muliro face off at the University of Nairobi for a second round date with Mwamba while KCB awaits the winners between Kisii and University of Eldoret, who meet in Kisii. Western Bulls and Egerton clash at Kakamega High School with the winners out to face Nakuru in the second round.