Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
CHEETAHS coach Daniel Hondo feels the biggest challenge his side faces is repeating last year’s performance and making it to the final of the World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier when they travel to Hong Kong in two weeks’ time.
Zimbabwe were yesterday drawn in Pool E of the second tier 12-team competition that will see the winner making it as a core member for the 2016/17 season that starts towards the end of the year.
There they face fellow Hong Kong, Germany, the Cayman Islands and Japan.
“Japan will definitely be the toughest team. We are not taking any team lightly. Hong Kong will be tough as well because they are at home and they enjoy great support and we will take Morocco equally seriously,” said Hondo.
At the Las Vegas Sevens Japan finished as the sixth best side overall with 12 points, placed ahead of the likes of France, Kenya, Argentina and Wales.
Last year the Cheetahs made it all the way to the final and were leading till they were drowned by Russia’s buzzer beater that saw them sink to a last play of the game. At least 10 Cheetahs players had been named in the Presidents XV side but coupled with the withdrawal of foreign-based players Mandenge has been left with a selection headache.
Of the 13-foreign-based players Mandenge had drafted into the squad, only four — Lawrence Cleminson (Russia), Bastien Mendelsohn (Durban), Jan Ferreira (Spain) and Moses Gunda (England) — have accepted the call-ups.
Fortune Chipendu, Biselele Tshamala, Njabulo Ndlovu, Taddy Whata, Riaan O’Neill, Shayne Makombe, Lenience Tambwera, Stephan Hunduza and Boyd Rouse are the Cheetahs named Mandenge’s President XV squad.
However, Hondo, Mandenge and Zimbabwe Rugby Union director of rugby Brighton Chivandire were expected to meet last night to discuss the possibility of having some players remaining in the Presidents XV squad.
Hong Kong Draw
Pool E: Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Germany.
Pool F: Spain, Chile Papua New Guinie, Mexico.
Pool G: Japan, Tonga, Brazil, Morocco