Nyamutsamba rallies Zambezi Cheetahs

HARARE - The Zambezi Cheetahs have put their Maseru celebrations on hold to focus on the Africa Cup that gets underway in Kampala, Uganda this Friday with the sole purpose of making it to next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in the USA.

The Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team accounted for Zambia in the final in Maseru a fortnight ago to claim the Maseru Series championship.

This was revenge on their neighbours after the locals fell to the same opposition in the final of the Lusaka Sevens tournament held in Zambia earlier.

But Zambezi Cheetahs coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba believes the honeymoon is over and his charges have to switch their focus to work mode in the Africa Cup Sevens in Uganda.

“We have had very good preparations playing in these two tournaments losing in the final and winning the other but our main objective has always been the qualification for the World Cup,” Nyamutsamba told the Daily News yesterday.

“Winning the tournament (Africa Cup) will be a bonus; the goal is to make it into the final which guarantees us qualification to the World Cup.”

The Cheetahs left for Uganda early in this morning with a 12-man squad that also include skipper Hilton Mudariki, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Mudariki’s availability in Kampala will be a major boost for the team in their quest to reach the Promised Land.

“We selected a team of 12 players and all these players will get an opportunity to play in Uganda depending on the game plan for the different matches,” Nyamutsamba added.

“Mudariki is back although we still have to see how best we can manage him. It’s going to be tough in Kampala, we know Uganda and Zambia have put in a bit of time and resources to ensure that they can be at their best but we have also done enough.”

Meanwhile, hosts Uganda’s preparations for the tournament were dealt a huge blow after three of their players went AWOL in Germany at the weekend.

Uganda had gone to participate in the Oktoberfest 7s last Saturday but three players Brian Kikaawa, Fred Odur and Ramathan Govule then absconded presumably in order to seek asylum in Germany.

At the tournament, Uganda beat Chile 17-12 before falling to Spain 33-12 in the ninth-place final.

Govule plays for Betway Kobs, while Kikaawa and Odur play for Hima Heathens and Toyota Buffaloes respectively in the Uganda domestic rugby league.

They disappeared on Saturday evening after the team’s dinner at the Leonado Hotel in Munich, Germany.

According to reports in Uganda, team management has reported the matter to the police.

This is not the first time Uganda Sevens players have disappeared while in Europe.

In 2014, Benon Kizza and Philip Pariyo left the team’s base during the Commonwealth Games in Scotland before they resurfaced when they turned out for little St Peters RFC in Cardiff.

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