Zambezi Cheetahs arrive in Uganda

HARARE - The Zambezi Cheetahs arrived in Kampala, Uganda early yesterday morning ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup Sevens rugby tournament which kicks off tomorrow.

Zimbabwe flew out for Kampala just after midnight and in the morning, the squad was already in the Ugandan capital.   

“We travelled safely and it’s pretty hot here. The boys had a session in the pool shortly after we arrived,” Zambezi Cheetahs team manager Donald Mangenje told the Daily News from Kampala.

“We will have a light training session this afternoon (yesterday) and another one tomorrow (today) before our first game on Friday.”   

Zimbabwe have been placed in Pool B at the tournament together with Madagascar, Senegal, Botswana, and Mauritius. Pool A is made up of Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco, Zambia, and Ghana.

The Zambezi Cheetahs first match will be against Mauritius on Friday morning before they Botswana just after noon.

Senegal will be up next for Gilbert Nyamutsamba’s charges and they will end their group stage campaign with a clash with Madagascar later in the day.

The Africa cup Sevens serves as the qualifier for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens finals to be held in San Francisco, United States.

Only the top two teams in Kampala are guaranteed qualification for San Francisco which means the Zambezi Cheetahs need to reach the final this Saturday.

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 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.

The chaos in the Uganda camp might come as good news for Zimbabwe, who are hoping to win the Africa Cup Sevens tournament and secure a ticket to play at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States.

Zambezi Cheetahs coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba had already identified Uganda as one of the good teams his side must be wary of in Kampala this weekend.

“Yes the tournament is going to be a tough one in particular I know that Uganda, Tunisia, Zambia have put in a whole lot of resources into their Sevens teams,” Nyamutsamba told the Daily News last week.

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