Chee­tahs in camp for Zam­bia tour­ney

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Mehluli Sibanda Se­nior Sports Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe na­tional sevens rugby team, the Chee­tahs get into camp to­mor­row in Harare for the Wind­hoek Draught Sevens in Lusaka, Zam­bia on Satur­day and Sun­day.

A squad of 26 play­ers will start fine tun­ing at Harare Sports Club un­der the tute­lage of Chee­tahs coach Gil­bert Nya­mut­samba. From there, 24 of them will make up two teams for the tour­na­ment with one of them be­ing the Chee­tahs and the other Goshawks with de­par­ture for Zam­bia on Fri­day. Former Chee­tahs play­ers, Tan­gai Ne­madire as well as Jafet Nde­bele have been work­ing with Nya­mut­samba and the two will take charge of the Goshawks.

Nya­mut­samba in­di­cated that while they might have a de­sire to be crowned cham­pi­ons in Zam­bia that might not be pos­si­ble be­cause they want try out new com­bi­na­tions.

“We are go­ing to Zam­bia want­ing to win the tour­na­ment but our ma­jor pri­or­ity is to con­tinue work­ing on our team com­bi­na­tion and to see other play­ers I have not had a chance to see and that did not take part in the Kwese Sevens early this year,’’ said Nya­mut­samba.

Af­ter Zam­bia, the Chee­tahs will head off to Maseru Sevens in Le­sotho on 23 and 24 Septem­ber. From there, Nya­mut­samba is ex­pected to name his fi­nal squad of 12 play­ers for the Africa Cup Sevens to be played on 6 and 7 Oc­to­ber in Uganda.

“This tour­na­ment that we are go­ing to, that’s our sec­ond for this year af­ter the Kwese one and we ex­pect to also at­tend a third one in Maseru. I am hop­ing that by the time we get to Maseru the bulk of the team or an idea of the fi­nal squad will be in place. I would have been able to see all the play­ers that have made them­selves avail­able from the be­gin­ning of the year through the 15s play­ing sea­son,’’ he said.

Some of the play­ers that Nya­mut­samba has called up who were not part of the Kwese Sports Vic­to­ria Falls Sevens are the South Africa based trio of Tapiwa Tsomondo, Ngoni Chibuwe, Bise­lele Tshamala and prop Mark Kid­son who is domi­ciled in the United King­dom. Skip­per Hil­ton Mu­dariki, to­gether with Mkhu­l­uli Ndlela and Brian Dube are also part of the squad which gets into camp to­mor­row.

Vet­eran Gard­ner Nechi­ronga, who plays club rugby in South Africa and Ger­many-based speed­ster Tafadzwa Chi­tok­windo are some of those who will miss the trip to Zam­bia but re­main very much in Nya­mut­samba’s plan for the Africa Cup. On what goals he has set for the Africa Cup, which also serves as a qual­i­fier for the 2018 Sevens Rugby World Cup in the United States of Amer­ica, Nya­mut­samba said they want to be cham­pi­ons in Uganda. While be­ing in the fi­nal guar­an­tees the Chee­tahs a place in USA, they have to be cham­pi­ons in or­der to head to the Cape Town and Dubai legs of the World Rugby Sevens Se­ries.

“We are go­ing there to try and win the tour­na­ment, win­ning the tour­na­ment then au­to­mat­i­cally means that we have qual­i­fied for all that is there to qual­ify for. So we are go­ing there with the aim of play­ing in the fi­nal and win­ning the fi­nal. Play­ing in the fi­nal guar­an­tees us the World Cup but does not get us back into the two cir­cuit tour­na­ments, that is Dubai and Cape Town but it also guar­an­tees us Hong Kong and get­ting a chance of chal­leng­ing for core sta­tus,’’ said Nya­mut­samba.

The Chee­tahs, who re­cently got a $100 000 sponsorship from Delta Beverages us­ing their Zam­bezi Lager brand were last in ac­tion at the Kwese Sports Vic­to­ria Falls Sevens in March where they beat Namibia 24-7 to win the in­au­gu­ral tour­na­ment.

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