Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
JUST over a month after their flirtation with the Rugby Sevens World Cup in the United States, Zimbabwe’s Cheetahs will return to continental duties when they assemble next week for a tour of Zambia that will kick start their Africa Cup preparations.
The Cheetahs found the going tough on the global stage and returned from the AT&T Park in San Francisco, United States with just one victory — a Bowls play off clash against Jamaica which they won 33-21.
Cheetahs coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba has however, shifted his attention to building for the next Africa Cup campaign as well as Zimbabwe’s bid to qualify for the next Olympic Games.
Nyamutsamba yesterday outlined a comprehensive programme which he would want the Cheetahs to follow starting on Tuesday when they get together for the Lusaka Sevens on September 1-2.
The Cheetahs coach said they would put everything to ensure they succeed in the Africa Cup and be guaranteed more World Series tournaments.
“Africa Cup is our main focus…it’s the pathway to Hong Kong qualification. As for now we have Zambia and Maseru, and we will use the two tournaments in preparation for Africa Cup
“For the Zambia tour the team will have bulk of locally based players and for the two build-up tournaments the team is to assemble on Tuesday.
“There is also the intention of using Zambia as a developmental tournament, where we take mostly local and upcoming players, with a few seniors to stabilize the team,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
Nyamutsamba also said the locally –based players would as part of preparations train in Harare and Bulawayo until they go into camp.
“Camp will commence on Monday the 27th of August until Thursday the 30th of August. The team will travel to Lusaka by road on Friday the 31st of August and return on Monday the 3rd of September.
“For the Maseru 7s, which is on 22 – 23 September, camp will commence on Tuesday the 18th of September until Thursday the 20th of September.
“The team will travel to Johannesburg on the 21st of September on the early morning flight then travel by road to Maseru from Johannesburg,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
After the tours of Zambia and Lesotho, the Cheetahs’ next port of call is Tunisia on October 13-14 October.
“Camp will commence on the 4th of October until the 9th of October and the team for that tournament will depart for Tunisia on the 10th of October and will return to Zimbabwe on the 16th of October.
“As we do not have much time between now and Africa Cup. We will not be having trials for beginners or first time Sevens players at this stage. This is normally done in January and March.
“However club coaches, national age group coaches and Sables coaches are free to recommend players that they think are Sevens ready and should be given an opportunity’’.
Nyamutsamba also outlined how he would go about the selection for the Africa Cup games.
“All players that were part of the Sables tour of duty will be given a week’s rest and thereafter will have to make themselves available for Sevens training. All players that were not part of the World Cup training camp in July and all players who did not participate at the World Cup are to attend a minimum of two camps and to have played in at least one tournament before Africa Cup selection.
“Players who were part of the World Cup camp but not part of the tour should be available for at least two training camps. Local players who played at the World Cup should make themselves available for all three camps.
“Foreign based players who played at the World Cup should make themselves available during the Africa Cup camping period to be eligible for selection. Availability for all three tours will, however, increase selection chances,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
It will also be show time at the Machinery Exchange stadium at Harare Sports Club this afternoon when local giants Harare Sports Club and Old Georgians clash in the Harare League Cup final.
Both clubs have been boosted by the returns of their Sables internationals from Rugby Africa Gold Cup duties in Uganda. Flyhalf Lenience Tambwera, national captain Denford Mutamangira and his fellow forwards Cleopas Kundiona and Lucky Sithole are among the Zimbabwe internationals who are back for Sports Club duties as is coach Daniel Hondo who is Peter De Villiers’ assistant in the Sables.
Sports Club new signing Brandon Mandivenga was also with the Sables in Kampala where he had a fine game in the national team’s 38-18 victory.
OGs will no doubt count on the experience of veteran flanker Fortune Chipendu for inspiration in this crunch game which could either way.
Tambwera for whom Sportivo’s kicking options will depend predicted a tough battle but reckoned that his side would have the edge and indicated that he was eager to serve his club again.
“We joined the local guys on Tuesday and I must say the team is really focused and ready for the game. They are also happy to have us back from national duty.
“It’s been long since I last played in that red and white jersey and it’s an honour to be putting it on in a club final after missing so many games on national team duty,’’ Tambwera said.