Former Sables captain Costa Dinha believes that flaws in team selection and lack of adequate preparations might cost the national rugby team a place at the 2015 World Cup finals.
While the Sables retain hope of conquering Kenya and with a bonus point to finish top of the pack for an automatic place at the England finals, Dinha said the sad part of the story is that the Sables have fallen behind tomorrow’s opponents and entertain a sliver of hope to cause an upset.
“I think we can cause an upset, the sad part of it is that we are now hoping for upsets against teams like Kenya which only two years ago we would score some 50 points against,” said Dinha. “I do not want to sound too critical of the team. We have a strong squad out there but the standout factor that has caused this difficult situation is lack of adequate preparation.”
The Sables played and lost to Namibia 24-20 on Wednesday, to leave Brendan Dawson’s men precariously close to World Cup disappointment.
Kenya, who arrived in Antananarivo as rank outsiders, have emerged as favourites for the automatic ticket after wins against Namibia and Madagascar in their first two matches.
Zimbabwe and Namibia have each won one match going into the final round of matches tomorrow.
The worst part for the Sables is that they could yet miss out on second spot which would give them another chance to qualify via play-offs against Russia and then either Uruguay or Hong Kong.
“We needed to beat Namibia on Wednesday but we failed and for me we lost that match because we did not select the right team to face such a task. Why were the front row players forced to play two 80-minute games? International rugby is taxing and our forwards got tired and should have been replaced.
“Since I played for the Sables. We only managed to beat Namibia once in 2001 and this was the best chance to beat them again. And if we thought Namibia were tough, Kenya will be even tougher. We had the players in Madagascar who if they had been played and in the right positions would have won by a 20-point margin; we did not make the right substitutions.”
Dinha, who has since retired from international rugby after leading Sables to continental glory in 2012, said Gerald Ndlovu should have played ahead of Lincoln Chitokwindo.
“Against Kenya it will be tough, but we have the skill and rugby brain to beat them if the right players are picked and placed in correct positions. We need to play smart rugby and keep up with their tempo and physicality. Our fate is no longer in our hands.
Even if we accomplish the mission against Kenya, Namibia are likely to record a huge margin victory against the hosts. People celebrated our 57-22 victory against Madagascar yet those 22 points we conceded will come to haunt us. Kenya rested some of their players and still won 34-0.”
Dinha added that if Zimbabwe failed to qualify it is going to come down to flaws in the selection of the players that travelled to Madagascar.
“If we fail to qualify, it’s difficult to escape issues to do with squad selection. The team is struggling in Madagascar because they have not played together for a long time. Of the team that won the Africa Cup only five started the match against Namibia. We have chopped and changed too much. About 50 players have been capped in the last two years and thats a bit too much at this level. But that said, I still believe we can beat Kenya but if the right team is not selected, it could get embarrassing for us in that match.”