SABLES coach Brandon Dawson has blamed lack of depth following the team's poor showing at the Emirates Four-Nations rugby tournament in Dubai recently.
Zimbabwe, who will participate in the qualifiers for the 2015 IRB World Cup next year, lost 7-22 to Hong Kong in the opening game, fell 11-28 to Belgium before winning 65-14 against United Arab Emirates.
The current Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Group 1A champions will have to remain in the same group next year and then win the group in 2014 to qualify directly to the finals which will be held in New Zealand in 2015. The 2013 CAR Group 1A, likely to be hosted by Madagascar, will feature Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, with one of the teams being relegated to Group 1B. One team from Group 1B, which features Tunisia, Namibia and Senegal will be promoted to Group 1A to be involved in the World Cup qualifiers. Dawson said the problem faced by the country at the moment was the small player base, which was exposed in Dubai.
"Qualification for the 2015 IRB World Cup will be very tough and we need to thoroughly prepare for it. Teams such as Madagascar are improving and Namibia is also likely to have been promoted to Group 1A," said Dawson.
"Our major problem is the lack of depth. In Dubai, we clearly missed the absence of three senior players Danny Hondo, Jacques Leitao and Tangai Nemadire, who were with the Sevens side in South Africa. With their experience, I think we could have done better.
"I am happy with the performance of junior players who are coming through, but experience was our biggest let-down, especially in the match against Hong Kong."
Zimbabwe's road to the 2015 World Cup is littered with minefields as they have to either hold on to the same Group next year and then ultimately win it in 2014. Next year's competition will be tougher as it is likely to be played in Madagascar, known for its passionate fans. With the likely promotion of Namibia into 2014 Group 1A, Zimbabwe's chances appear to be getting slimmer and the preparations are not pleasing either. If they finish as runners-up in the CAR Group 1A, Zimbabwe will be involved in the play-offs pitting the winner of the Europe qualifier round 6, the Americas play-off loser and the Asian 5 Nations runner-up.