Zimbabwe host Namibia in an Africa Gold Cup match in Bulawayo this Saturday − a game De Villiers’ charges simply must win with a bonus-point if they are to keep their qualifying hopes alive.
The Zimbabweans are yet to win a game in the 2018 Africa Gold Cup, having drawn with Morocco (23-23) and lost to Kenya (45-36) and Tunisia (18-14).
They are currently fourth in the six-team event and cannot qualify directly for the World Cup, but can still enter the repechage tournament if they finish second in the standings.
For that to happen, Zimbabwe must gain bonus-point victories in their final two games − against Namibia (August 4) and Uganda in Kampala (August 18).
The nation that does eventually enter the repechage tournament will face Canada, Germany and Hong Kong to do battle for the final spot in Japan.
The Namibians, meanwhile, currently top the standings in the tournament which serves as qualification for the Rugby World Cup.
Namibia beat Uganda 55-6 in their first match in Windhoek, before annihilating Tunisia 118-0 at the same venue the following week.
They then beat Morocco 63-7 in Casablanca, and a victory over Zimbabwe this weekend will take them one step further to qualifying for the World Cup.
Namibia’s final match will be against Kenya in Windhoek on August 18, where the winner of the group is likely to be confirmed.
The Kenyans are also unbeaten, but are three points behind Namibia as they failed to pick up any bonus point victories.
Kenya’s next match is at home against Tunisia on August 11.
The winner of the Africa Gold Cup, as well as the eventual repechage winner, faces the daunting prospect of being drawn in the same pool as the defending champion All Blacks, the Springboks and Italy.
Africa Gold Cup standings (in order of games played, won, lost, drawn, bonus points, table points):