Are we a hopeless sporting nation?

HARARE - Walter Njowa, one of the country’s top rugby referees, posed a pertinent question after Zimbabwean football hit an all-time low on Sunday with the national side’s preliminary round exit from the African Nations Cup qualifiers.

Posting on a Zimbabwean rugby forum following the Warriors’ elimination by Tanzania, Njowa queried: “Are we next after the Warriors? Please let’s correct it now! The announced team?”

Njowa’s question was in apparent reference to the Zimbabwe rugby squad selected for month-end’s World Cup qualification tournament in Madagascar, an understrength side which has raised serious question marks over the Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s commitment to steer the nation to its first World Cup in two decades.

Walter’s questions beg answers.

It’s an understatement to say the Sables squad announced last week looks thin, too weak challenge for a World Cup place. It’s terribly unbalanced and lacks strength in depth.

The general feeling among rugby fans now is that the World Cup dream could be over before it has even started.  Such cynicism is understandable. It’s a road we’ve travelled before. 

The ZRU say they are still awaiting confirmation for five players, but time is not on their side, and the prospects not looking good.

Key players are missing in critical positions. Most due to injury, yes, but also a lot of available competent players have been left out.

Only one recognised centre in the squad due to injuries, and we can afford to ignore a midfielder of Cleopas Makotose’s calibre? No, no, esteemed selectors!

Going into three tough tests with just one recognised scrumhalf, an inexperienced one for that, with just two caps, is asking for disaster.

And then you have a wing of the qualities of Manasah Sita, who has recently just helped his German club win a trophy and has another final coming up, and you don’t make an effort to get him in the side. It simply defies logic.

Muvambi Mudzamba, another avid rugby blogger, summed it up pretty well on Kyros Rugby, saying:

“There is only one centre, Hondo, and five wingers. One recognised kicker and no impact men, no recognised eighthman and no power lock, someone is smoking weed here.”

A strong brand, Muvambi, a very strong one.

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