ZIMBABWE’S Cheetahs will be seeking to defend their title in the Africa men’s sevens championships set for 8 and 9 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Team Zimbabwe will head into this year’s competition as the defending champions after upstaging Kenya 17-5 in the finals of last year’s tournament held in Monastir, Tunisia.
The two-day tournament will have 14 African teams that include hosts South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Madagascar, Zambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana, Mauritius, Cote d’lvoire and Nigeria competing for the top spot.
This year’s Africa Cup Sevens tournament will have added significance as it doubles up as the qualifier for the 2020 summer Olympic Games with the winner automatically booking a ticket to Tokyo.
Last month, the Zimbabwe Cheetahs participated in the Zambia International seven’s rugby tournament where they came out second to bring home a silver medal after they lost 26-14 against the Spartans of Botswana in the final match.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs had an opportunity to test their preparedness ahead of next month’s qualifiers where they were invited to participate in the Tusker Safari Sevens that recently took place at the RFUEA grounds in Nairobi, Kenya.
Having not managed to hold any training sessions at home before their departure for Kenya, Zimbabwe Cheetahs assistant manager Simba Mandla Dangah said they made use of the Tusker Safari Sevens as a training camp with their main focus on the Olympic Qualifier.
“The Tuskers Safari helped the team to see and gauge its strength and this provided the technical team with a platform to see if their systems and plays are working and what needs to be done leading up to the Africa Cup and Olympic Qualifiers. Our main and key objective is to take this proud nation to the Olympics. We are gearing for the Olympic Qualifier where we want to leave an indelible mark as a sevens playing nation,” he said.
Dangah added new and young players were given a chance to prove their mettle against the experienced and seasoned players and they did not disappoint which brings about a good headache for the coach going into the home stretch for Africa Cup.
“We achieved the objectives we set out to achieve and that was to have game time on a competitive stage, give the team time to gel with the new players, gauge the strengths of the new plays and systems and review the systems of play which we managed to achieve. The squad has a wide base of players who we keep in our database and radar to watch their progress. While nothing beats experience, we have the talents to try and compensate and fill the voids left by the seasoned players,” said Dangah.