BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE has named an exciting, but inexperienced national rugby sevens squad with an eye on the future ahead of their participation in the World Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Repechage tournament in Monaco this weekend.
The Cheetahs, as the national rugby sevens side is affectionately known, will leave the country today for the final qualifying tournament for the rescheduled Olympic Games which takes place on Saturday and Sunday at the Stade Louis II in Monaco.
Following the omission of experienced campaigners such as Stephan Hunduza, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Riaan O Riaan O’Neil, Shayne Makombe and Biselele Tshamala, the new-look Cheetahs squad is dominated by players who are yet to make an appearance in a HSBC World Sevens Series tournament.
Old Georgians star Boyd Rouse has been handed the captaincy and will lead a young Cheetahs, which includes new caps such as Godfrey Magaramombe and the highly-rated Mutare Sports Club twin brothers Munopa and Munesu Maneta.
Rouse is one of the few seasoned players along with England-based Brandon Boshi, Poland-based Martin Mangongo, Nelson Madida and Shingirai Katsvere.
South Africa-based livewire wing Sam Phiri, who was on the books of Western Province, has also been included in the squad after impressing on his national team bow during the Rugby Africa in the opening leg of the Rugby Africa Solidarity Sevens Camp
Cheetahs coach Daniel Hondo conceded that his side is facing an uphill task in Monaco due to lake of competitive game time.
“Basically we haven’t been playing rugby for almost two years, with the exception of the recent Rugby Africa Solidarity camp so are still rebuilding and that’s why we have selected a new look squad with an eye for the future,” Hondo told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday.
“Obviously qualifying for the Olympic Games will be a tough task, but as you know the ball can bounce anywhere in rugby sevens. We are looking forward to the challenge and we will give it our best.”
Hondo’s Cheetahs have been placed in Pool A alongside Samoa, Ireland, Tonga and Mexico, while Pool B is made up of Uganda, France, Chile, Hong Kong and Jamaica.
The top two teams from each pool progress through to the knockout stages, culminating in the final with the winner booking their place at the Tokyo Games.
Cheetahs Squad: Boyd Rouse (Captain), Sam Phiri, Ryan Magaramombe, Kudzai Mashawi, Nelson Madida, Munopa Maneta, Munesu Muneta, Ryan Musumhi, Godknows Mavara, Shingirai Katsvere, Martin Mangongo, Brandon Boshi
Head coach: Daniel Hondo
Team manager: Keegan Cooke
Physiotherapist: Margaret Gibson
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