Ten Players To Watch Out For After #Floodies2018
The just concluded 37th edition of the Impala Floodlit will go down as one of the best, in the tournament’s illustrious history, not only for the action on the pitch, but by the sheer numbers it attracted over the three weekends, hope people were taking notes.
What was even more exciting was watching this young crop of players stand up and get noticed, almost like a generational change happening right in front of our eyes, like it was at the sevens series. Credit to the technical benches who gave their younger charges a run out ahead of the regular season.
Among the many lessons Floodies has taught us ahead of the Kenya Cup season is that the presumed gap between the sides might not be as big as we had earlier placed it, which makes for a very interesting couple of months ahead. Here are some of the young players that caught the eye over the last three weekends.
1. Philemon Olang’ (Strathmore Leos) – On first sight you would be forgiven to mistake the man they call Chinese for a half back or a winger due to his diminutive stature. Philemon however proved time and again in the past three weekends, that he can bruise it out with the best back rows in the land. What he lacks in size he more than makes up in sheer speed and an accurate eye for space in any defense line. Alongside his teammates at the Leos they are bound to raffle some feathers this season.
2. Martin Oyugi (Stanbic Mwamba RFC) – Another diminutive character, although this time in the ‘right’ position, the Mwamba scrum half picked up the 9 shirt on weekend one and owned it through the tournament. His general command of play and speed of service were exemplary, not mentioning that he is not afraid to mix it up with the big boys, remember that stand off against KCB’s Oscar Sorano? The battle for the 9 shirt will be very interesting at Kulabu.
3. Douglas Kahuri (Kenya Harlequins) – Douglas made his first team debut for the Quin during the derby and has looked at home ever since. A big fast boy by many standards, Douglas fitted in almost seamlessly alongside Patrice Agunda, his defensive work at this position was exceptional, his ball carrying too caught the eye.
4. Stephen Osumba (KCB) – The recent graduate of St. Mary’s Yala, jogged onto the Impala turf under the floodlights as an early change at fly half on the first week of the tournament. From this point on Zola as he is fondly known, never looked back, starting at fly half for the eventual champions in the two weekends that followed. His command of the game, deft step, coupled with a boot that many would only dream of, he looks set to give the KCB technical bench a welcome headache when picking who starts in the number 10 shirt.
5. Joshua Matasi (Resolution Impala Saracens) – The young Impala hooker stepped up in the absence of the regular starters and made a serious case for himself. In a country where we are quickly running out of front rows, it is always great to see a young lad with great potential. He seemed to grow with every weekend, accurate with the line out throw and a general work horse, he might just make some of the senior hookers at the club regret missing out on the tournament.
6. Jan Remke (Menengai Cream Homeboyz RFC) – You have to be really good to make the Homeboyz starting line up at barely 20 years old, especially in such a crucial position as outside center, let alone starting in the two weekends the team played, that is exactly what Remke did. He showed why the technical bench had faith in him, his positioning and general execution of play was well above par in a position we have struggled with as a country for sometime now.
7. Shem Joseph (Resolution Impala Saracens) – He would easily pass for a 29 year old, given his height, but Shem Joseph is barely 23 years old and his sheer height makes him a headache for the opposition at any line out, as he rightly proved over the last three weekends. Shem, like any good lock, is also not afraid to get into the rough, whether with ball in hand or without. Impala might have unearthed a real gem, in Shem.
8.Isaac Njoroge (KCB) – In the constantly changing line up that was KCB’s match day 23, Isaac Njoroge was a constant at open wing. Safe on the high ball, blessed with quick pair of legs, a lethal step and no slouch defensively, if his showing during the last three weeks is anything to go by, it is only a matter of time before Izo makes his mark not only on this KCB side but the Kenya Rugby scene.
9. Elvis Namusasi (Stanbic Mwamba) – It is not everyday that you get on as a substitute and go on to pick up the man of the match award, let alone on your debut. That is exactly what Namusasi did on the Semi final weekend, against Nondies, before then he was ‘Ule jamaa wa Mombasa ali itwa Kenya.’
After that showing that earned him a starting berth in the Plate final, he simply became, Namusasi. He is one of those fly halves who make everything look easy, almost to a point that he might pass off as lazy, his command and vision is exemplary, with a boot to match. He adds to a growing list of young lads who are set to bring back the glory days to Kulabu.
10. Samuel Asati (KCB) – Yes, I saved the best for last, another deceptively diminutive character (Yes, I might have a bias towards these type of players), the eventual 2018 Impala Floodies Most promising player, Tin Tin as he is fondly known, is a rare complete nine, apart from Xavier Kipng’etich he is the closest we have seen to the general Peter Mutai, or if I dare say, Aaron Smith.
While his attacking prowess, turn of speed, control of a game’s pace and sharp eye for a gap is widely known, it is his work at the second line of defence that sets him apart from the rest, never one to shy away from a tackle and rarely misses. His boot off a breakdown is also as impressive, which has become a rarity on these shores.
As we had quipped on the sidelines of the final with a good friend, in a few years, Kenya will be spoilt for choice at number nine, you bet that Asati is going to be in that mix.
I have barely scratched the surface with these, you look at the likes of Xavier Kipng’etich who I have mentioned, now a Kenya International, Vincent Onyala, Daniel Taabu, Gabriel Adero, Johnston Olindi, Mohammed Omollo, Manasseh Oduor, Ronnie Omondi, Tyson Okoth, Paul Mutsami and a host of others, who seem like household names but are not a day over 25 years old and you realise we are indeed in the middle of a generational change and the one coming up is a real exciting one.
Feel free to add any other young talents that caught your eye at Floodies as we look forward to what promises to be an exciting 15s season ahead.