Cheetahs sweat over Mudariki

HARARE - The Zambezi Cheetahs are hoping captain Hilton Mudariki will be fit to take part in the Africa Cup Sevens rugby tournament which gets underway in Kampala, Uganda on Friday.

Mudariki has been struggling with a hamstring injury he picked up in last month’s Lusaka Sevens tournament in Zambia.

Zimbabwe Sevens coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba, however, included the Pirates scrumhalf in his 12-man squad announced last week.

“The preparations for the tournament have been going on well and we are now set to leave for Uganda in the early hours of Wednesday morning,” Zambezi Cheetahs team manager Donald Mangenje told the Daily News yesterday.

“We still have an injury concern with the captain Hilton but we are hopeful that he will recover in time for the tournament which starts on Friday.”

Mudariki has been the team’s heartbeat ever since he was appointed captain back in September 2015.

The Zambezi Cheetahs would need him to be fully fit and firing on all cylinders if they are to make an impact in Kampala this weekend.

The Africa Cup Sevens acts as the qualifier for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens finals to be held in San Francisco, United States.

Only the top two teams in Kampala will qualify for the global showpiece in San Francisco coupled with another ticket to take part in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament where core status for the 2018-19 World Sevens Series is up for grabs.

In Kampala, Zimbabwe have been placed in Pool B for the round robin stages where they will play Madagascar, Senegal, Botswana, and Mauritius.

Pool A is made up of Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco, Zambia, and Ghana.

Speaking with the Daily News last week, Nyamutsamba said he was confident the amount of preparation they have put in will come good at the Africa Cup Sevens.

“Our selection process started at the beginning of the year with identifying 56 players then us attending to three tournaments,” Nyamutsamba said.

“The idea was to open up the selection and look at every possible player that wanted to play for the Zim Sevens team.

“The response was good and I’m glad that by the time we got to the final team I was able work all the players and I’ve been able to see them in camp situation and in tournament situation.”

The Zambezi Cheetahs coach reckons his side will get a tough run in the later stages of the tournament if they come up against Zambia, Uganda or Tunisia.

These three teams have been investing a lot of money in their Sevens teams with the hope of winning the Africa Cup Sevens title.

Zambezi Cheetahs Squad: Hilton Mudariki (Pirates, SA), Biselele Tshamala (College Rovers, SA), Lucky Sithole, Shingi Hlanguyo (Harare Sports Club), Tapiwa Tsomondo (False Bay, SA), Scottie Johns, Stephan Hunduza, Ngoni Chibuwe (Old Georgians), Njabulo Ndlovu (UWC, SA), Boyd Rouse (Bury St Edmunds, UK), Mkhululi Ndhlela (Tuks, SA), Nelson Madida (Mat Warriors).  

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