Big teams clash
Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
BATTLE lines have been drawn in the National Rugby League with the top four teams that are in the semi-finals declaring war against each other as defending champions Harare Sports Club take on city rivals Old Georgians while Old Hararians host Mat’land Warriors.The matches are all set for Old Georgians Sports Club today with the first game set to kick-off at 1pm. There is all to play for for all the teams as a defeat to any of them would mean the end of the season at this one-legged knock-out stage while the winners will fight for the most prestigious local rugby title.
To show how seriously they are taking this encounter, Bulawayo side Mat’land Warriors were yesterday afternoon already in Harare with coach Reuben Kumpasa saying his charges are determined to go all the way to the final.
Last year Kumpasa’s charges fell to hosts Harare Sports Club in the final and this was their first year in the league and to add to the squad they currently have, Durban-based utility forward Biselele Tshamala was expected to fly in last night.
Old Hararians, on the other hand, are of the view that they will get the better of the Warriors who they have beaten twice in the regular season so far and coach Cyprian “Supa” Mandenge says he will be the first in over five years to lead the Old Boys to a league final.
The Old Boys have been in the last five semi-finals but they have fallen at this stage owing to lack of tactical intelligence, giving in mostly to Harare Sports Club and Old Georgians who have inter-changed holding the title between them.
“We are focused and everyone in camp knows what is expected of them. We will not look at the fact that we have beaten the Warriors over the past three meetings because at this stage it’s all about attitude, discipline and the team that get their basics right will win.
“The fact that we are in the semi-finals on its own is a motivational factor to the boys to do well add to that we have some players, who were out due to injuries and educational commitments, that have come in to bolster the squad.
“There is no need to undermine Mat’land Warriors because they are already in town and that goes on to show how serious they are taking the game. Remember they went all the way to the final last year and that shows their potential,” said the Sables assistant coach Mandenge.
Among those that have recovered from injuries are former Zimbabwe Under-20 backliner Mclean Muhambi and Leroy Mashiri while prop Tinotenda Chikobvu and center Takudzwa Chieza came in from their bases in South Africa.
And like his opposite number, Kumpasa is not taking anything lightly and he feels the better side on the day will smile all the way to the final, something he is sure his charges are capable of doing.
“We are well trained, we are motivated we know it’s a big game not only for us but for the whole rugby community and this is the semis so it depends who is better on the day and I am sure we will be the better side.
“The boys have left their duties at work and college to be with the team and travel to Harare and that shows what it means to us we have no injuries and our squad is fully fit.
“We have done our homework, having lost to Old Hararians, we know what to expect and we are good to go,” said Kumpasa.
Among their ranks, the Warriors have the likes of Jan Ferreira, Tshamala, LLoye Machanjaira and Lucky Sithole who also play for the national team.,
Old Hararians captain Tichafara Makwanya added: “There is no need to relax, we just have to play harder and not underestimate the Warriors despite the fact that they have lost some players over the season.”
Old Georgians coach Grant Mitchell goes into their tie against Harare Sports Club with respect.
“We always have a good match playing Harare Sports Club regardless of which period of the season we are at and we both respect each other’s abilities and efforts,” said Mitchelle
Losing twice to the Dragons, Red Lions assistant coach Blessing “Bhuru” Chiutare wants his side to turn the tables and make the Dragons swallow their own flame.
“It’s time for us to step up now, we are the defending champions aiming to make it to the final, the defeats we suffered to OGs were not that huge and were caused by mistakes on our part. We have worked on our mistakes and I am sure we will make it to the final,” said Chiutare.