ZIMBABWE Sevens rugby team coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba will be keen to add to the depth of his squad ahead of a busy international season when he leads a new-look Cheetahs side in the Kwese Invitational Sevens to be staged at Harare Sports Club between tomorrow and Sunday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
After a remarkable 2018 season in which they clinched a memorable Africa Cup Sevens title, the Cheetahs will have a busy season with their immediate task coming at the Hong Kong Sevens next month where they battle to become a core team on the HSBC World Sevens Series.
Zimbabwe will also set their sights on securing qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan during this year’s Africa Cup, which will be held in September at a venue yet to be confirmed.
In a bid to come up with a formidable squad for the two important assignments, Nyamutsamba will be scanning for potential players to strengthen his side after calling up a number of uncapped players, while resting most of the regular players who were part of the Africa Cup-winning squad.
Australia-based Hayden Wilson is one of the notable new faces in the side together with former Zimbabwe Under-20 players Jeremiah Jaravaza, Martin Mangongo, Blithe Mavesera and Godfrey Muzanarwo.
The Cheetahs coach told IndependentSport in an interview yesterday that the Kwese Invitational Sevens will not only provide some of his senior players with game time before the Hong Kong Sevens, but is also a good platform to unearth new talent.
“The Kwese 7s is the only tournament we will play before the Hong Kong Sevens and we felt it was also an opportunity to have a look at some of the up-and-coming local players, as well as some players we have not had an opportunity to look at,” Nyamutsamba said.
“That is the reason why we didn’t call most of the regular players because we want to give new players a chance to impress ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens and the Africa Cup in September, which will double as the qualifier for the Olympic Games.”
Nyamutsamba said he was looking to build a core group of 18 players he will work with ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens and the Olympic Qualifiers and there would be places on offer for players who will impress this weekend.
“Our goal is to have a core group of 18 players comprising of the regular players and some of the new up-and-coming players to work with ahead of the two important tournaments we have this year. This tournament serves as a fantastic platform to see what the players have to offer, as we get to see them in action in a few matches over the two days,” he said.
Zimbabwe will field two teams at the Kwese Invitational Sevens, namely the Cheetahs and the Goshawks. The other participating teams in the men’s tournament are Georgia, Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Mbare Academy and Zambia.
Former African champions Uganda were also scheduled to feature in the tournament but withdrew on Wednesday citing the limited time before the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Zimbabwe women’s rugby side, the Lady Cheetahs, headline the women’s field which will also feature Botswana, Zambia, Matabeleland and a Zimbabwe “A” team.
Matches will be played in a round robin format, where three points are awarded for a victory, two points for a draw, one point for a loss and no points for a no-show.
Cheetahs training squad: Hayden Wilson, Kudzai Mashawi, Blithe Mavesera, Godfrey Magaramombe, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Jerry Jaravaza, Takudzwa Francisco, Akim Dick, Tich Hwangwa, Martin Mangongo, Shingirai Katsvere, Theo Goredema, Godfrey Muzanarwo, Boyd Rouse, Tinotenda Nyawasha, Lenience Tambwera, Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Tatenda Maunga, Andrea Banda, Tatenda Kasotora, Zephaniah Nkomo, Brandon Mandivenga, Tatenda Kandawasvika, Tadiwa Kandawasvika, Stephan Hunduza (captain), Takudzwa Kumadiro, Nelson Madida, Dylan Jera, Brighton Matiashe, Brian Nyaude
Team management: Gilbert Nyamutsamba, Gerald Sibanda, Amanda Tererai, Margaret Gibson