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Mandenge challenges squad ahead of tie

ZIMBABWE senior rugby team’s assistant coach, Cyprian Mandenge, has challenged his players not to lose focus in the Confederation of African Rugby Group 1A final against Kenya at Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar today.

BY ALBERT MARUFU

Fielding a relatively new look side following the sacking of most senior players after a player mutiny ahead of the tournament, the Sables came from behind to beat hosts Madagascar 38-18 in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

In the other semi-final, the Kenyans beat Uganda 52-11 to book a place in the final with the Sables.

Mandenge, who did not travel to Madagascar with the team due to financial constraints, said the players should not be content with remaining in Group 1A, but should aim to bring the trophy back home.

“It is good that we are still in Group 1A, but the players should cultivate a culture of winning. Winning can become a habit in the same way that losing can become a habit. They should bring the trophy home,” he said.

Mandenge added that the players showed a lot of character in coming from behind to beat Madagascar in front of their home crowd.

“They showed a lot of composure after being jittery in the first minutes against Madagascar. However, coming from being 3-18 down to force a victory shows a lot of character. The Kenyans are not going to be easy looking at the way they hammered the Ugandans. We have played Kenya before and won the game, but it was close,” he said.

The two finalists have secured their 2014 CAR Division 1A status, the top division for African rugby apart from South Africa, and they will be joined by the third placed team in this tournament and the winner of Division 1B.

Teams contesting Division 1B are former World Cup finalist Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal.

The 2014 CAR Division 1A will serve as the final round of Rugby World Cup with the winner booking a direct ticket to England.

Runners up in CAR Division 1A will take part in a final qualification round involving teams from Europe, Asia and South America for the last slot.

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