I haven't failed: Mandenge

HARARE - Zimbabwe rugby coach Cyprian Mandenge insists he is the right man for the job despite presiding over another disastrous Rugby Afrique Gold Cup campaign.

The Sables narrowly retained their Gold Cup status after finishing in fifth place in Africa’s top tier rugby competition following four defeats in five matches.

Zimbabwe finished their campaign on Saturday with a 38-12 defeat to Uganda in Kampala which was the team’s eighth defeat in their last nine internationals.

Now with the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualification at stake in next year’s Gold Cup competition, there have been calls for Mandenge to step down to allow a new coach with fresh ideas to take over.

“I have not failed to qualify for the WC and I don’t have any problems working with any positive-mined people but how do you judge whether some of these guys are genuine or not?” Mandege told the Daily News.

“There’s potential in this team and all have seen that and what’s important is we get down to serious business and make the best for the team.

“Ideally, I want for starters a situation whereby we have at least a forwards and a backline coach and resources permitting then we can also go an extra mile and incorporate a defence coach and an attacking coach.”

The Sables coach admitted that the just-ended campaign was a total disaster baring the opening win over minnows Senegal.

“Obviously not the results that we all had been looking for, we play to win every match but our target was to better our results from last year’s performance and remain in the Gold Cup but a defeat is defeat and we can’t justify losing to teams like Tunisia,” he said.

“The team started well with that away win against Senegal in Dakar. They carried that form into the 31-26 defeat against Namibia where decisions went against including that last try they scored which in essence was not a try and after that the performances started going down as evidenced with defeats against Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda.

“What that showed is that our guys are not used to playing hard games week in week out and as such going forward we need a strength and conditioning coach, a nutritionist and a sports psychologist.

“We also need to look at what other countries are doing that we are not doing and try to improve from there.”

Mandenge was grateful to the Sables Trust which came on board to take care of a number of the team’s expenses.

“Fortunately the Sables Trust came on board which took pressure off our players because they no longer had to worry about their welfare which was certainly a positive for the coach as well but results don’t come instantly,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that every time we are getting closer to a World Cup all the people that would have moved away from the game come back.

“For the two times the coaching job was advertised some of these people who are purporting to want to offer a helping hand never applied for the post because there was nothing in it for them, to them there was no hope in the team.

“Some of them had been at the helm of the team when we failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2015 and instead of coming up with a blueprint of what needed to be done for the next four years for us to make it to the next World Cup they didn’t do that instead they jumped ship and went elsewhere.”

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