The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Club Captain Confident of Winning

CHEETAHS captain Jacque Leitao has no complaints about the teams that Zimbabwe were drawn to play against at the International Rugby Board World Series tournament in South Africa and believes his troops will compete strongly at the tourney.

The South Africa leg of the series will burst into life in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

Zimbabwe have been drawn in Pool C of the competition where they will face the challenges of Canada, Portugal and the United States and their skipper and Old Georgians flanker feels that they are able to cope with the demands of the group.

"It seems to be a relatively good pool for us, but every team has shown they can upset the bigger teams. In Dubai (last week), Portugal beat England and South Africa and reached the Cup quarters with Canada.

"We know we have a big task ahead of us but just at the back of our minds we know that we can beat these teams, so we fancy our chances," said the forward.

The Cheetahs are still to make a huge impact in the main events of the international tournaments with their successes being in the Bowl and Shield levels.

But Leitao seems very ambitious and suggested that they would make it for the Cup stages.

"It is our goal to beat every team that we are going to play, and to reach the Cup, and we believe we can. I am sure they have the same belief in their camp, but for us we know we played them recently, we have prepared well and are just looking forward to a good game," he told an online newspage.

A few months ago Zimbabwe lost to Portugal in the core membership qualifiers and this loss is still fresh on the minds of the Cheetahs and Leitao believes the will to avenge for the loss could spur them on in Port Elizabeth.

"That was a difficult defeat to take, we led 17-7 with just over a minute left and ended up losing," he said.

However, Leitao feels that the changes that have been made in the Cheetahs side combined with the time they have taken to prepare for the Port Elizabeth Sevens and the moral boosting Africa Cup win will have a lot of effect on tomorrow's campaign.

"We have a couple of new players in now, though the strength and conditioning has been a major factor that we have been working on since (the Africa Cup),

"Obviously our goal is now qualifying for London in Hong Kong, and then becoming a core team for next year and we also have the World Cup in June."

Leitao also hopes that the support the Cheetahs enjoyed last year in Port Elizabeth will be a repeat this year adding that the brand of rugby his side plays keeps the spectators on their toes.

"The support we get here too is good, and if it is anything like last year it will be great.

"The brand of Zimbabwe Sevens is exciting and fast rugby, so we will just be hoping to bring that this weekend, keep our accuracy up, and hope to come away with some results," said Leitao.

While the Cheetahs expect a better performance compared to how they fared at the same stage last year, the Sables will also be hoping to leave an impression in Dubai where they are taking part in the Emirates tournament for the first time.

Despite having eight new players in the XVs side, Sables captain Costa Dinha reckoned that his troops will be up to the challenge in the United Arab Emirates where they take on Hong Kong tomorrow.

After going down to Namibia and Spain in Windhoek a few weeks ago, the Sables are hoping to end the year on a high and Dinha believes they are stronger than they were in Namibia.

"I believe we have a much stronger forward pack compared to where we were in Namibia and this is going to be key in our performance against the more professional sides we will play in this tournament," said the veteran lock.

Zimbabwe squads

Sables: Tapiwa Mangezi, Pieter Joubert, Nic Winwood, Keith Murray, Simba Musarurwa, Brian Makamure, Costa Dinha (captain), Jan Ferreira, Sanele Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Shingirai Mpofu, Tonderai Chigumbura, Takunda Chifokoyo, Scotty Jones, Graham Kaulback, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafara Makwanya, Tommy Nelson, Gavin Nyawata, Simbarashe Chirimuuta, Josh Rowe, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Shane Makombe, Steven Hunduza, John McWade.

Cheetahs: Jacques Leitao (captain), Fortune Chipendo, Njabulo Ndlovu, Justin Coles, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Tangai Nemadire, Kilvan Magunje, Daniel Hondo, Gardner Nechironga, Wes Mbanje, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Garth Ziegler.

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