HomeSportEngland fete smells sweet for Sables

England fete smells sweet for Sables

Now for a World Cup party for which Zimbabwe can rightly claim its invitation card.

Kevin Mapasure

While the world is engrossed in the Brazil Fifa 2014 World Cup fete, Zimbabwe will be launching its own bid to play at such a global stage when the national Rugby 15s side, the Sables, contests Kenya, Namibia and Madagascar for a berth at the England 2015 Rugby World Cup finals.

The misery of having to temporarily adopt other nations at global stages such as the Fifa World Cup could be soothed by the Sables who have probably their best chance since their last dance in 1991 to grace such a big stage.

Sports fans including the serially disappointed Warriors die-hards could find comfort in watching the Sables run out at a World Cup and for once will not be forced to pretend to be Ivorian, Nigerian, Nambian or South African.

For once the Zimbabwe national anthem can be played to the World’s attention, if and that’s a big if, the Sables complete the job in Madagascar starting tomorrow.

The journey has not been without its problems for the Sables, the preparations have been poor yet the commitment, confidence and camaraderie remain high.

A journey that began in Africa’s Group 1C, ahead of the promotion into 1B before the top tier 1A and eventual crowning as African champions in 2011-12 could end up with a trip to England.

Namibia has claimed the berth for the last four World Cups and that streak must be broken and it is the Sables that have exhibited the skill, speed and strength to outsprint the Welwitschias this time on.

Kenya have probably prepared best for this one, but do not match the quality that the Sables and Namibia boast of in their squads, never mind them being the defending African champions.

By the way the winner of this tournament will also be crowned African champions.

The sweet smelling scent of England 2015 has driven the Sables in the last four years and the question is whether they can indeed qualify.

The World Cup finals berth is important in many ways; it could transform the game in the country altogether and the future for those in the conveyor belt of talent would blossom brightly.

“If we qualify for the world Cup then the lives would be changed especially in the build up to the World Cup where we will have to turn professional if we are to be competitive,” said Sables coach Brendan Dawson. “That would filter down to the juniors as well and that is why qualifying for the World Cup is so important to us and qualifying for the World Cup has always been what I wanted to do since I took over in 2007.”

Zimbabwe is blessed with the talent but is not as fortunate with financial resources as Kenya and Namibia.

The sables have been operating on a shoestring budget and are probably the poorest among the four nations, yet they are still confident they will reach London.
“Our preparations were not what we wanted, but they were good considering the resources we had. There was not enough money for us to play friendly games, but I am happy with the 10-day training camp we held and the coming in of Baile Swart. To us we have picked the best available squad, but obviously there are some disappointments given that we had a squad of 35 and we will travel with 26.”

Zimbabwe open their account with a tough match against the hosts who are likely to be powered by a 15 000 home crowd.

“It’s going to be tough against Namibia and Kenya but we have to get past the first hurdle (Madagascar).”

Namibia and Kenya kick the tournament off at 1pm before the Sables take on Madagascar at 3pm.

The Sables-Namibia showdown is set for Namibia and while Zimbabwe’s record against their Southern African neighbours is not particularly encouraging the confidence is still high in Dawson’s camp.

Having faced the Namibians 25 times the sables have only won thrice, but the record is much better against Kenya whom they have played 13 times and beat nine times while losing four times.

Bringing in the likes of Lion’s Guy Cronje, Lambert Groenewald and also the inclusion of Peter Du Toit has boosted the Sables.

After all the preparations, it’s finally here.

Sables Squad
Forwards: L. Cleminson F, Mudariki, J. Ferreira, S. Ferreira, L. Groenewald, P. Joubert, G. Lawler, J. Leitao, M. Mandioma, K. Murray, D. Mutamangira, N. Ndlovu, K. Nqindi, S. Sibanda.

Backs: G. Cronje, H. Mudariki, L. Tambwera. T. Chitokwindo, D. Hondo, T. Nemadire, S. Hunduza, D. Robertson, R. O’Neill, G. Sibanda, P. du Toit, K. Lang

Technical team: Brendan Dawson (head coach), Cyprian Mandenge (assistant coach), Brighton Chivandire (team manager), Sharon Mkumbuzi (physiotherapist).

Delegates: Liam Middleton (director of rugby) Colleen de Jong (vice-president and HOD), John Falkenberg (president).

Weekend Highlights
Rugby: Africa Cup Group 1A, Kenya v Namibia 12pm, Madagascar v Zimbabwe 2pm.

Football; Fifa 2014 World Cup; Brazil v Chile 6pm, Colombia v Uruguay 10pm.

Fifa 2014 World Cup, Netherlands v Mexico 6pm, Costa Rica v Greece 10pm.

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