Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE’S character to bounce back and breathe life into their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign will be put to the test on Saturday when the Sables take on Kenya in the second of their 2019 World Cup qualifying assignments in Nairobi.
The Sables regrouped in Harare on Sunday night and had their first training session together yesterday ahead of their expected trip to Nairobi tomorrow.
Peter De Villiers’ men will, however, fly to East Africa knowing that pressure has mounted on them to deliver a victory or kiss goodbye to any hopes of securing a berth at the World Cup showcase in Japan next year.
The Sables were on a break last Saturday but there is no doubting that results from elsewhere in Group 1A grabbed much of their attention as they prepared to go back into camp.
This is because the outcomes of the weekend matches have left the Sables with a mountain to climb after tournament favourites Namibia ran riot at the Hage Geingob in Windhoek to hammer hapless Tunisia 118-0 and stretch their points tally to 10, eight more than Zimbabwe.
Kenya also got their campaign underway with a come-from-behind 28-24 victory over Morocco in Casablanca to ease into second place. But it is the manner in which Namibia are running away with the group that puts into perspective the tough task that awaits the Sables in the remainder of their campaign.
And, as the Sables regrouped with the hope of reviving their campaign, their former coach Godwin Murambiwa reckoned there was need for De Villiers to cast his net wider and consider some of the country’s finest talents who are playing their trade in foreign lands.
Murambiwa was at the Machinery Exchange rugby stadium at Harare Sports Club on June 16 and watched from the terraces as the Sables stuttered against Morocco. “Zimbabwe, as a team, didn’t give strong enough play to convince fans that they have a specific game plan to carry into the next game…I thought they would have played that game on a higher tempo and not try to take on the heavier slower forwards of Morocco in the first quarter.
“Against a structured side like Kenya the lapses in defence where Morocco had an overlap every time have to be fixed otherwise the Kenyans are a lot more accurate and they will punish us.
“The half back pairing of Hilton (Mudariki)and Lenience (Tambwera) needs to be more decisive and take control… we also needed six or seven of the Zimbabweans who play overseas competitively,’’ Murambiwa said.
He said should the Sables fail on their mission, they would have to immediately rebuild for the 2023 World Cup.
“Only positive thing is we need to rebuild for 2023 . . . but not with some of youngsters we have now . . . we need to find good youngsters to blend,’’ Murambiwa said. Kenyan coach Ian Snook was delighted by their victory in Casablanca.
“Well obviously we are very smiley at the moment . . . were a little bit worried towards the end . . . obviously we had to play a lot of footie to get in front at the end.
‘‘It could have gone either way . . . we are delighted with how it went. Morocco have got big, strong players . . . they are direct . . they are well organised and know what they want to do.
“We knew what we were here to deal with but on lots of occasions we weren’t good enough to deal with it,” Snook said.