The Herald (Harare)

5 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Sables Leave for Dubai Tonight

THE Sables leave for Dubai tonight knowing exactly what is expected of them following the rugby 2015 World Cup draw conducted on Monday. Zimbabwe have the challenge of at least remaining in Africa's World Cup qualifying Group 1A next year and win the group in 2014 as this is the easiest way for them to make it for the global rugby showcase in England.

If the Sables finish second in the group in 2014, then they will have to go for a play off against other continental runner-ups and the Zimbabwe technical team would not want to take this route.

But in the event that the Sables win the 2014 Africa Cup -- that is also serving as the World Cup qualifier - then they will be in Pool C of the world's biggest rugby showcase alongside current champions New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and another team that is yet to qualify from Europe.

If they finish as runners up, then they will have to go for play offs and winning those play offs against teams from other continents would see Zimbabwe making it the World Cup Pool A.

That group is made up of Australia, England Wales and another team from the Oceania region -- most likely Fiji

But a closer look at the draw shows that whichever way Zimbabwe will qualify, it is obviously never going to be easy for the Sables who last featured at the World Cup in 1991 when current coach Brandon Dawson was as one of the younger players.

The Sables, would however, have to overcome the obstacles of the African jungle where Namibia are the biggest threat to their qualification hopes for the World Cup.

Zimbabwe's quest for a World Cup slot will begin in six months and their performance in Dubai at the Emirates invitational tournament could have a huge impact on their preparations for the world tournament.

The Sables, however, believe they should be patient about how they handle their preparations and avoid subjecting themselves to pressure.

Sables assistant coach Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge said his side would have to "take it stage by stage as all the teams are also preparing for the World Cup in different ways".

"If we look at it in our case, we have the Dubai tournament up next and that would be a starting point for us because all the other teams are also preparing for the World Cup in different ways.

"So we have our own way of preparing for it and our main target at the moment is to make sure that we remain in Group 1A of the Africa Cup before the big one in 2014.

"We have to take it step by step and the draw as we saw it was not easy and there was no way it was going to be easy but we just have to be the best we can be," said the former Harare Sports Club coach.

The Dubai tournament is being taken as the first step towards building a team for the World Cup qualifiers and this would mean that more than 15 new caps have featured for the Sables in just two tournaments.

Neighbours South Africa -- who by virtue of their high ranking on the International Rugby Board world ranking -- do not play in the qualifying stages are in Pool B at the 2015 World Cup alongside Samoa, Scotland and continental winners from Asian and South America.

The Sables are scheduled to leave for Dubai tonight with a largely unfamiliar side that is dominated by rookies and eight new caps after some of the top players were not released by the sevens team -- the Cheetahs.

Some of the players are also out through injuries.

Scotland-based flanker Shingi Mpofu will lead the oversees contingent that includes the uncapped tight-head prop Nick Winwood and former Zimbabwe Under-20 utility back Thomas Nelson. South Africa-based hooker Keith Murray and flank Tonderai Chigumbura, Old Georgians halfback pairing of Graham Kaulback and Jonathan McWade, front rower Simba Musarurwa and the Harare Sports Club duo of centre Simba Chirimuuta and wing Steve Hunduza complete the troop of uncapped players.

Sables

Forwards: Tapiwa Mangezi, Pieter Joubert, Nic Winwood, Keith Murray, Simba Musarurwa, Brian Makamure, Costa Dinha, Jan Ferreira, Sanele Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Shingirai Mpofu, Tonderai Chigumbura, Takunda Chifokoyo.

Backs: Scotty Jones, Graham Kaulback, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafara Makwanya, Tommy Nelson, Gavin Nyawata, Simbarashe Chirimuuta, Josh Rowe, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Shane Makombe, Steven Hunduza, John McWade.

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