By Enock Muchinjo
THE Confederation of African Rugby has introduced a new format for this year’s CAR Cup, which will also be used as part of the 2011 IRB World Cup
The new set-up will see 12 sides in three-team groups battle it out for a top-two finish in order to progress to the next World Cup qualifying stage.
Zimbabwe’s Sables — who were originally scheduled to play Tunisia, Cameroon and Uganda — have now been placed in an equally tough Group A with Namibia, who were at last year’s World Cup, and Senegal .
The Sables will play Namibia in Windhoek in July before hosting the Senegalese in August.
Zimbabwe have failed to beat Namibia in six years, with the Sables’ last victory being a 23-21 win in a CAR match under Godwin Murambiwa in 2002 in Bulawayo.
While the hulking Namibians have been frequenting the World Cup recently, Zimbabwe have been sinking to all-time low levels of even losing to former lightweights such as Zambia, Uganda and Madagascar.
But Zimbabwe Rugby Union boss Bruce Hobson believes this time the Sables will stop the rot.
“I would prefer to play Namibia away than play Tunisia in Tunis,” Hobson said. “They will be under more pressure because they need to play like a team that was at the World Cup.
“We are the underdogs, yes, but if we get organised and get it right we can do the damage.”
Hobson said the Senegalese were not a big threat, even after watching a video of their close defeat at the hands of a disjointed Zimbabwe at Prince Edward School two years ago.
The astonishingly hot-tempered Senegal outfit were booted out of the competition and some of their players banned by CAR after attacking spectators and forcing the abandonment of the match.
Meanwhile, the power struggle in CAR has intensified with incumbent president Abdelaziz Bougja expected to be removed by a vote-of-no-confidence at the board’s AGM in Mauritius, in September.
Bougja, a Moroccan who resides in France, is accused of undermining the game in the sub-Sahara region.