By Enock Muchinjo
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) were this week battling to retain key national team players for the crucial Africa Cup first leg tie away to Madagascar next weekend.
>Captain Costa Dinha and combative flank Jeff Tigere, who are on vacation from their overseas base, were called by their German first division clubs for a pre-season tournament this weekend and have already received tickets to fly out of the country.
However, the ZRU want the two players to stay and play in the Madagascar match.
National team manager Noddy Kanyangarara told IndependentSport that it would be difficult for the union to bring back the players from Europe ahead of the match once they leave.
“We will be responsible for all the expenses of keeping the two players here and having their tickets extended. That is cheaper than flying them back here again,” he said.
“However, what happened was just a communication breakdown between us, the players and their clubs and we hope to rectify the situation before the weekend.”
Eightman Dinha played a blinder on his debut as Sables captain in a friendly against Kenya in Bulawayo last month. The former basketball star now forms a formidable back row with flank Tigere in the Sables line-up.
Kanyangarara said the team go into camp on Monday and will train separately. Coach Brighton Chivandire will take charge of the forwards at Old Hararians Sports Club, with national sevens coach John Ewing taking the backs through their drills at Old Georgians Sports Club.
There will be four additions to the squad that beat Kenya as another Germany-based player, Phil Carter, is expected in the country on Monday. Other new inclusions are Harare Sports Club three-quarter Shaun de Souza and the South Africa-based duo of fullback Cleopas Makotose and lock Arthur Mathe.
Meanwhile, 13 teams will converge at Old Hararians Sports Club on Sunday for a Lion Lager tournament where the top four teams will receive prize money.
Newly promoted Police Defenders together with relegated Gweru Sports Club and Southern Region second division champions Wankie Diggers will join 10 national league clubs at the tourney.