Sables expect tough Senegal game

HARARE - Sables coach Cyprian Mandenge says he anticipates a physical encounter against Senegal in their first match of the 2017 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup away in Dakar tomorrow.

The Zimbabwe national rugby team left Harare early yesterday morning and were scheduled to arrive at 3pm giving them an opportunity to have a captain’s run at the match venue today before the match.

“I think it’s a good thing that I don’t know much about how they (Senegal) are playing at the moment because I haven’t seen any footage,” Mandenge said.

“As a coach it is my philosophy that you don’t have to waste your time focussing on the opposition because you can’t control how they play.

“You can only control one thing in a game (how you play); the other two things you can’t control in a game are the referees and how the opposition play.

“Them (Senegal) being big boys, I expect them to be very physical so we just need to play smart and play away from congestion — out wide and quick.

“The biggest thing in rugby is making the right decisions and playing in the right areas so it’s a matter of drilling the guys to understand that we need to play in the right areas.”

Mandenge has had to make do with a squad of 31 and of the  players he had hoped to have in camp, 26 turned down the call-up due to various reasons.

“I’m happy with the squad though, I would have wanted everyone to be available but there are quite a number of guys who are not available but I can’t take away anything from the guys that I have in camp, I’m happy with them,” he said.

“Looking at the way they played against Zambia, people can say Zambia was a small team but people always talk, suppose they had beaten us; people would have had a lot to say.

“Some people expected us to lose; it’s unfortunate that in our sport in this country there are people who want the next guy to fail so that they come into that position or just prove a certain point.

“We played well against Zambia and we hope to continue playing like that. That on its own is giving me hope in that if one guy is not there we can get someone to play.”

Despite a not so good preparation ahead of the trip to Senegal, Mandenge expects his side to deliver.

“I think we have got a bigger pool now because the guys that played against Zambia were local based players. It’s a positive development in that if these guys play well there’s no reason why I should then look elsewhere,” he said.

Sables squad:

Forwards: Denford Mutamangira (captain), Lawrence Cleminson, Irvine Nduwa, Brian Makamure, Tolerance Zishe, Graham Cochran, Brian Nyaude, Witness Mandizha, Fortune Chipendo, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Conor Pritchard, Biselele Tshamala, Osborne Muhambi.

Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Tichifara Makwanya, Lenience Tambwera, Daneil Capsopsoulos, Boyd Rouse, Ngoni Chibuwe, Stephan Hunduza, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Tadius Hwata, Tarisai Mugariri.

Head coach: Cyprian Mandenge, Team manager: Sam Samu, Physiotherapist: Abigail Munikwa.

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