The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE’S Cheetahs hope to end the year on a high note when they take part in the Dubai Sevens Invitational Tournament, which begins on Thursday.
The Cheetahs have been trying to pick up the pieces after a disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa earlier in July.
Coach Graham Kaulback and his youthful side have been working their socks off to put their house in order ahead of a hectic 2023 schedule, which includes the Africa Cup, Olympic qualifiers and the Challenger Series.
“We are in a very tough pool at the Dubai Invitational, with Ireland Development and French sides Militare and Fantastics. So, the goal will be to top our group and then take it from there,” said Cheetahs assistant coach Ricky Chirengende.
“Besides that, it’s the performance that will be key.
“We want to see how the new structure and the new systems we have put in place will fare against top-quality opposition.
“We have gone with a mostly local-based side, and we want to use this particular tournament to blood some of the new guys, what with a very challenging 2023 on the horizon in which we will have Olympic qualifiers, the Challengers Series and the Africa Cup.”
Chirengende said this is the Cheetahs’ last tournament of the year, after which they will take a break and return in early January.
“We are still waiting for World Rugby to release the schedule for the next year, but we expect to get rolling as early as possible,” he said.
The Cheetahs’ management last week announced the 12-man squad for the Dubai tour of duty set for December 1 to 3.
Kaulback has blended youth and experience.
Young Sables’ stalwart Shadreck Mandaza is in line for a debut appearance at the United Arab Emirates, with the Barthes’ Trophy-winning halfback being rewarded for his performances with the Cheetahs Academy side at last weekend’s Zambezi Sevens Challenge tournament.
Also included is the trio of Godknows Mavara, Tapiwa Malenga and Emmanuel Zangari, who were also part of the Zambezi Challenge, but with Botswana-based outfit Spartans.
The Dubai Invitational Sevens competition will be played concurrently with the opening leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series, which features the world’s leading Sevens sides.
Tadius Dzandiwandira, Godfrey Magaramombe, Emmanuel Zangari, Tapiwa Malenga, Kudakwashe Nyamakura, Alex Nyamunda, Carlos Matematema, Ryan Musumhi, Godknows Mavara, Shadreck Mandaza, Edward Sigauke, Takudzwa Kumadiro