DUBAI // Dave Matasio was not part of the UAE's 22-man squad for the opening day of the Cup of Nations on Saturday, but he still had plenty of reason to attend.
The IT consultant was part of a small contingent of Kenyans, cheering on his home nation in their tense win over Brazil.
And all the while ,he was proudly wearing his white UAE No 6 shirt, which he will don for the first time in a competitive XVs international against the nation of his birth on Friday.
When the same scenario occurred in the Dubai Rugby Sevens two weeks ago, the Dubai Wasps flanker conceded he had mixed feelings.
"It is all the family of rugby," said Matasio, 34, who first moved to Dubai in October 2007 with his work in IT. "I had the chance to play for Kenya's sevens and XVs teams, but I never made it because of work.
"I feel like I am finishing my career at the top, because I have maybe one more year left and then I am done with it. I am glad to be part of the UAE team."
Matasio comes into the starting line up because Renier Els, the captain, sustained a knee injury in the loss to Brazil.
Matasio will pack down on the blindside, alongside the Abu Dhabi Harlequins duo of Jamie Clarke and Alistair Thompson.
"He is very physical, so it will be nice to bring in someone like that who can rough teams up," Wayne Marsters, the UAE coach, said.
Chris Gregory, who was part of the UAE side for the Sevens, returns at scrum-half. Gregory had opted out of the XVs format in the recent past but made himself available for Friday's game to assist a squad badly hit by injury and illness.
UAE v Kenya, 3pm
Hong Kong v Brazil, 5pm
Matches on Pitch Two, The Sevens, Al Ain Road, Dubai