ZIMBABWE Under-20 rugby coach Bob Mahari has named a provisional squad of 35 players as the nation steps up preparations ahead of the southern leg of the Rugby Africa Barthes Cup U-20 Championships, which get underway on March 28 in Windhoek, Namibia.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Young Sables technical department had initially drafted an enlarged squad of 52 players, which was last week trimmed to a 35 players ahead of a fine-tuning match against Matabeleland Warriors at Hartsfield Rugby Ground in Bulawayo on March 17.
The final 25-man travelling squad and five non-travelling reserves will be announced on March 23.
“The preparations have progressed well and the Zimbabwe Rugby Union U20 Committee chaired by Itai Chataura has worked really hard to ensure that our preparations progress smoothly,” Mahari said.
“We expect everyone to be in the country by the 15th of March before we leave for Bulawayo where we will play a friendly against Matabeleland Warriors which we hope will give us an indication on our level of preparedness.
“We’ve been able to assemble a very strong squad in terms of individual players and we are very excited about that, but we don’t know if we’ve got a strong team yet. That’s what we will have to find out as we step up our preparations,” he said.
Zimbabwe will open their campaign with a tricky tie against Kenya on March 28 while hosts Namibia will play Madagascar in the other semi-final, with the two winners expected to meet in the final three days after.
The regional winners will then progress to the final African qualifier against the winner of the northern leg consisting of Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Morocco.
The overall winner will then represent Africa at the 2018 World Rugby U20 Trophy to be held towards the end of August at a yet-to-be-named venue.
Zimbabwe U20 Provisional Squad
Forwards: Cleopas Kundiona, Sam Garnett, Cody Rensburg, Munashe Kujeke, Cameron Harrison, Tinashe Murevi, Deane Makoni, Victor Mupunga, Godfrey Magaramombe, Jehu Mukurazhizha, Brighton Chinyama, Malvern Nyakuedzwa, Jacob Dinha, Blythe Mavisere, Tichaona Hwangwa, Tinashe Chaza, James Oworru, Tonderai Chiwambutsa, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Matthew Oworru.
Backs: Ngoni Mazarura, Connor McMillan, Enrique Ndlovu, Jeremiah Jaravazi, Nigel Tinarwo, Tinotenda Savanhu, Taine Roelofsz, Mathew McNab, Mazvita Nyamarebvu, Tafara Mutseyekwa, Rufaro Chikwaira, Julian Tafireyi, Cosmas Mubaiwa, Munashe Kamunda, Martin Mangongo, Tonderai Ndudzo.