Windhoek — Namibia's senior rugby side, the Welwitschias, will tomorrow confront Tunisia in their Rugby Africa Gold Cup opening clash. The competition serves as Africa's qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.
With two-time world champions South Africa having already qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Namibia will this weekend be out to secure a victory against the Tunisians and set a clear path for their 2019 World Cup qualification quest.
The Welwitschias, who have dominated the competition and are reigning champions having won the African Gold Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2016, will tomorrow be expected to be in top shape and deliver a rousing performance against the north Africans as a win in tomorrow's match will be the only reasonable outcome.
After the Tunisia clash, Namibia will then take on Senegal on July 8 at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek, before engaging southern African neighbours Zimbabwe on July 15, also at home. After the Zimbabwe clash, the Welwitschias will then travel to Uganda for another vital clash slated for July 22, before returning home for their last Gold Cup qualifier against Kenya on July 29.
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which doubles up as a qualifying competition for the 2019 World Cup, features Namibia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The competition is played on a round robin basis and the eventual winner is crowned Gold Cup champion and subsequently qualifies for the World Cup.
Namibia, who are a tier-two nation in the World Rugby tier system and have participated in five World Cups since their first appearance in 1999, are hot favourites to qualify again.
The full squad reads as follows: Collen Smith, AJ de Klerk, Desiderius Sethie, Shaun du Preez, Orbert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Casper Viviers, Max Katjijeko, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Ruan Ludick, Thomasau Forbes, Wian Conradie, Rohan Kitshoff (captain), Christo van der Merwe, Eugene Jantjies (vice-captain), Damian Stevens, Lesley Klim, Darryl de la Harpe, Justin Newman, Gino Wilson, Johann Tromp, Helarius Kisting, David Philander and Chrysander Botha.