SABLES captain, Denford Mutamangira wants his charges to beat Namibia when the two teams meet at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek at 5pm today in a mouth-watering Rugby Africa Gold Cup Group 1A encounter, knowing that a win here could enhance their chances of qualifying to the 2019 World Cup.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup doubles as a World Cup qualifier, making the stakes for this clash even higher.
“We want to go all the way in this competition. We just don’t want to remain in Group 1A, but we have said to each other, although we have not had enough time to prepare ourselves to where we want to be, let’s challenge ourselves and go all the way,” Mutamangira told NewsDay Weekender yesterday.
The Gold Cup is played on a round robin basis until August 5, with the winner not only being crowned Gold Cup winner, but also qualifying for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in Japan.
It may be too early to talk about the World Cup, since this is only the first round of the qualification process, but Namibia pose a serious threat to the Sables’ ambitions.
“The thing is, against Namibia, we have always struggled in the second half, but we have said to the guys look let’s take them on and let’s play hard-running rugby for 80 minutes in this encounter,” the Sables pro said.
“Preparations have been good. They have been better than the previous ones. What’s left is for us to apply ourselves when we play Namibia and also to be able to remember what we have worked on and how we are going to take them on.”
Zimbabwe have made a number of changes to the team that beat Senegal 28-16 away from home last month in the first match, with veteran flanker, Jacques Leitao, Australia-based Connor Pritchard, number eight, Njabulo Ndlovu and Daniel Capsopoulos drafted in.
Namibia are top of the pile in the qualifiers, having demolished the West African nation 95-0 and their coach, Rodger Thompson, would want to keep the momentum going with a win against Zimbabwe.
Speaking to the local Press yesterday, Thompson admitted Zimbabwe were a very strong side capable of getting a result.
“Zimbabwe are a quality team, and have always been a strong competitor for us. We have huge respect for them as a team. We are coming off a good win (against Senegal) last week, but that’s something in the past for us now,” he said.
“We will need to be on top of our game to get the desired result. It’s been a good working week for us, highlighting areas of improvement earlier in the week, and then making sure we follow the processes implemented to make sure we excel in the match against Zimbabwe.”
With the victory over Senegal, Namibia took charge of proceedings atop the Gold Cup log with 10 points, three points ahead of Kenya, who also recorded an impressive 100-10 win over struggling Tunisia in Nairobi, while Zimbabwe are third.