Zimbabwe: Cyclone-Torn Zimbabwe Looks to Sports for Comfort

Harare — ZIMBABWE'S junior rugby side will be eager to give the country an early Independence Day present and bring solace to the besieged nation when they host the Under20 Barthés Trophy.

The team is hopeful of promotion to the elite group of what is the only Rugby Africa junior tournament.

The Junior Sables will host four Group B fixtures in the capital Harare, with two back-to-back matches scheduled for April 17, the eve of Independence Day, at the Machinery Exchange Stadium, Harare.

The tournament coincides with the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai that has killed over 200 people, with the death toll rising rapidly.

Zimbabwe's will host Ivory Coast at 14h00 local time and Morocco faces Madagascar on the same field three hours later.

The Harare Sports Club will host the remaining two fixtures on April 20.

For Zimbabwe qualification will mean promotion from Group B into the Group A.

Losson Mtongwiza, Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) vice-president, is upbeat about the team's possibility of qualifying.

"Judging from the level of commitment and the serious competition we have had in the Harare Provincial Under-20 league I am sure we have a good chance of being promoted this year," he said.

"The calibre of players we have produced have had senior national team coaches looking at the boys and I have no doubt that the team's management will continue their fine performance.

Farai Muhari and Jeffrey Madhake will coach Zimbabwe, which is on a positive sporting trajectory after the senior football team qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations 2019.

The Barthes comprises of 12 teams, including reigning champions Namibia, who won last year.

This year's edition is composed of three ranking-based groups in which each team will play two matches.

Group A meanwhile has hosts Kenya, Namibia, Tunisia and Senegal. Group C features hosts Uganda, Algeria, Ghana and Zambia.

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