The Sunday Mail
CHEETAHS head coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place.
With just over a month before the Zimbabwe rugby sevens side travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, where they will defend their Africa Cup title, the team’s preparations look like they are in tatters.
It is a sad scenario that has left Nyamutsamba a worried man.
“With a month to go before the Africa Cup, which will double as Olympic qualifiers, it’s sad to note that our preparations are not at the stage we would have liked them to be.
“At this stage, we are actually close to having done nothing in terms of preparing for this tournament,” he said.
Nyamutsamba believes that a combination of failure to secure resources and to utilise time wisely have contributed to the situation both the country and the team find themselves in.
“Once again, as a team, we find ourselves being forced to do the best we can out of a bad situation.
“It’s unfortunate that we did not manage to put in enough time. Since the completion of last year’s competition, right up to the time we found out that this year’s competition would double as Olympic qualifiers. We did not manage to get enough resources and channel them into our preparations.
“That is how we found ourselves in this position,” Nyamutsamba said. The irony of it all is that this situation is now synonymous with the Cheetahs’ stable.
The team faced similar challenges in the run up to last year’s Africa Cup.
But, through determination, the team managed to pull off a miracle and win the Africa Cup despite having met just two days before traveling to Uganda for the tournament.
The previous year, the same thing happened as they headed to the World Cup.
Now, Nyamutsamba expects an even tougher competition.
“Last year, teams underestimated us, and we managed to pull through.
“This year, I am very sure that all the teams are expecting a lot from Zimbabwe. I know for a fact that Namibia, Kenya and Uganda have put in so much into their Sevens’ programmes.
“The tournament is going to be a lot harder than last year. There is no way that this tournament will be easier than the previous editions. It’s an Olympic qualifier and teams have put in time and resources into this,” he said.
That said, Nyamutsamba has pledged that his charges will give it their best.
“We still have a month to prepare. During that time, we have to do what we can to prepare the boys for the challenge that lies ahead.
Nyamutsamba is hoping to get his troops into camp later this month. They intend to play in at least one tournament before the Africa Cup. “We are looking at a tournament in Kenya, which we hope to use to fine tune the boys before the Africa Cup itself.
“The good news is that the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee has pledged to help the team camp. We hope to bring in the foreign-based players for that,” said Nyamutsamba.