Cheetahs brace for Africa Cup

Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba has set his sights on succeeding at the Africa Cup tournament in Tunisia early next month as the Cheetahs look to build from the ashes of their poor 2018 World Cup show.

The Cheetahs will soon regroup for the Africa Cup scheduled for October 12-14 in Tunisia with Nyamutsamba looking to name an initial 20-man squad. Nyamutsamba, whose side won only one game — a 33-21 victory over Jamaica at the World Cup —  had hoped to use the Lusaka and Lesotho tournaments as part of a programme to identify and give new players exposure in the Cheetahs’ rebuilding exercise ahead of the trip to Tunisia.

But financial constraints restricted the coach to only one run-around for his players – the Zambian tourney – where he travelled with a Goshawks side as no funds were available for the Maseru trip.

“We missed the Lesotho tournament last week because of funds but we should be getting into camp on 3rd October (if all goes well) in preparation for Africa Cup in Tunisia on the weekend of the13th of October.

“In Zambia we took a Goshawks side with only three core players as we were giving new players game time.

“But for the Africa Cup in Tunisia will be taking as may senior players as we can.’’

The trio of veterans Ngoni Chibuwe, Stephan Hunduza and Biselele Tshamala were the only Cheetahs regulars in Zambia.

“We have lined up 20 players but, at the moment, we are awaiting confirmation on player availability (those that are overseas) and funding to bring players in.

“We are also waiting to check on injuries, which will be a factor, so the final camp squad will only be known closer to the dates,’’ Nyamutsamba said.

The Cheetahs are also hoping for success in North Africa which will pave the way for their return to the Hong Series which attracts some of the world’s top teams.

That will give Nyamutsamba’s men the kind of test that will stand them in good stead for their bid to be ready when the Olympic Games qualifiers begin.

In the build-up to their tour of the United States in July, the Cheetahs lost a number of their players who were also involved with the Sables as the XVs national side were engaged in their own World Cup qualification campaign.

The Sables, however, ended up fighting to stay in the Africa Gold Cup, which was doubling as the Word Cup qualifiers, after successive defeats by Kenya, Tunisia and Namibia, which followed an opening day home draw against Morocco, left Peter De Villiers’ men starring relegation to the less fashionable Silver Cup.

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