MANDENGE BANKS ON YOUNGSTERS
SABLES coach Cyprian “Supa” Mandenge feels the young crop of players he took to Hong Kong for the Regal Hotels Hong Kong Cup of Nations tournament will carry the country’s game forward as they have exhibited an appetite for positive change.
Mandenge looks forward to a further improved display both in performance and result when the Zimbabwe senior rugby side take on Hong Kong in their second game of the tournament at the King’s Park Stadium tomorrow.
“Of course there were a number of positives we drew from the game but we should not be easily satisfied. The good thing is that I have a young crop of hungry players who are hungry for success.
“There is a good spirit in camp, there is a good working ethic that has developed, they want to do it (for the country. There are some who refused to be part of this team for reasons better known to them.
“But that is okay because I have always wanted to work with a bunch of dedicated players, players who are dedicated to duty and I am happy that is what I have with me right now,” said Mandenge.
Changes have been made to the side that lost 15-19 to top seeded Russia on Friday with the likes of young flanker Connor Pritchard, hooker Tolerance Zishe and Lawrence Cleminson commanding starting places.
Pritchard comes in for Njabulo Ndlovu who was injured in Friday’s opener.
No changes have been made to the back-line with scrummy Kuziwa Kazembe, fly-half Lenience Tambwera, wings Stephan Hunduza and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, centres Riaan O’Neil and Kudzai Mashawi, and fullback Lungile Tshuma all retaining their places.
And the former Harare Sports Club coach feels his side will put up a winning performance in the tournament they are aiming to break Zimbabwe’s losing streak that has gone for eight games dating back to last year’s Africa Cup loss away to Namibia.
He, however, feels that their improved performance against Russia compared to their previous seven games should not be taken as a satisfactory result — a win being the coaches’ target.
“I am looking forward to an even better performance. This time around we have had far better preparations with the foreign-based players blending in well with the local players and we have a good balance of players in the squad,” said Mandenge.
Zimbabwe lost 15-19 to Russia on Friday
Cyprian ‘Supa’ Mandenge