Sables get down to business

HARARE - The Zimbabwe senior men rugby side, fresh from the Regal Hotels Four Nations Cup in Hong Kong, will continue with their preparations for the Africa Cup and not wait for the routine camping that is usually done just before crucial assignments.

The Sables finished in third place at the Hong Kong games with a lot of positives registered from their previous outing last year. It was a disastrous campaign that started with a 50-5 thumping at the hands of eventual winners Russia last year and this time the Sables lost by a respectable margin going down 19-15 to Russia who also successfully defended their title during this year’s edition.

Zimbabwe went on to lose to hosts Hong Kong 34-11 before winding up their campaign with a 38-11 demolition of debutants Papua New Guinea to exit the tournament with at least a win unlike last year where they lost all their matches.

Head coach Cyprian Mandenge said he will continue monitoring the local players in the absence of the foreign-based ones in order to improve their conditioning.

“Going forward we will continue with our preparations for the Africa Cup with the local-based players in order to maintain and improve their fitness levels rather than waiting for the tournament to draw close for us to embark on serious preparations,” Mandenge told the Daily News.

“The Africa Cup journey started with our trip to Namibia and we don’t need to put our feet off the pedal. We gained vital experience in Hong Kong. We noted some of the problematic areas and the only way to improve is having more game time. All things being equal I would want us to have at least a Northern and Southern match at the end of every month and when we have our foreign-based players here it would be ideal to have them play against each other as well.”

The Sables were demoted to the lower Group B league following an indifferent campaign that saw them losing all their matches including to the group’s perceived minnows Uganda. With the World Cup coming in 2019, the locals have to make sure that they bounce back to the big boys club and fight for their global passage via the qualifiers.

“We want to bounce back to where we belong, we all noted our shortcomings and equally aware of what we need to in order to be among Africa’s best. I’m certain it can be done, the executive is confident of that too and so are the players and if the trip to Hong Kong and the zeal and hunger that I saw from the players is anything to go by then we are not far off from being readmitted to the top group,” Mandenge added.

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