Cheetahs in camp for Zambia tourney
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.