By Petros Kausiyo
SOUTH Africa-based flanker Michael Botha has been called into the Zimbabwe squad as the Sables look to strengthen their side ahead of their sink-or-swim Rugby Africa Gold Cup clash against Uganda next weekend.
The Sables, still searching for their first win in this campaign, will travel to Kampala for the August 18 showdown where only a victory will guarantee them safety from the ignominy that comes with relegation.
Zimbabwe are currently lying fifth on the six-team log table with just three points from four games to show for all the enthusiasm and the hopes they had of a berth at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Instead, it is Namibia who literally now have one foot in the World Cup showpiece after stretching their winning streak to four matches, and their points tally to 20, following their 58-28 triumph over Zimbabwe at Hartsfield last Saturday.
The Sables have, however, chosen to draw more positives than disappointment with the result from that game against Namibia.
Coach Peter De Villiers saw his men put on their best performance of the year but still fell short of ending the Welwitschias’ dominance over them.
Team manager, Derek Chiwara, revealed yesterday that the coach has sought to continue strengthening his team and had called up Botha, who plays for Western Province Super League A side False Bay in Cape Town.
Chiwara, however, said the Sables were worried by injuries to centres Brendon Mandivenga and Kuda Mashawi who are being assessed by the team doctor.
Mandivenga, who had a dream game against Namibia having started as flyhalf before switching to centre following the introduction of Lenience Tambwera, sustained a groin injury while Mashawi has a hamstring problem.
“We have basically remained in camp since the match against Namibia but we have just been taking it easy in the last couple of days, doing recovery sessions… conditioning mostly.
“At the same time we are awaiting one or two players to come in from outside, including Michael Botha, who is needed in our set-up for this coming fixture.
“We are also looking at the condition of our injured centres Mashawi and Mandivenga and they are being assessed by the doctors.
‘’We will not make drastic changes because we want to maintain continuity but there will be a selection meeting on Thursday and that will determine everything,’’ Chiwara said.
Chiwara said the Sables were not reading much into the fact that the Cranes posted their first win of the campaign when beating Tunisia 67-12 to ease into third place with five points.
Until last Saturday, Uganda had been without a point but they ran in nine tries on their way to victory over the Carthage Eagles, earning a bonus point in the process.
The Sables also emerged with a bonus point from their bruising battle against Namibia in which they became the first side to plant four tries past the Welwitschias’ defence.
“We are not really worried about what happened between Uganda and Tunisia.
“People who have been watching Tunisia will have noticed that they have been changing their team.
“They brought all their foreign-based players for the Zimbabwe game but since then they have been changing their team and they are now using whoever is available for each particular game so we can’t really say they were at their strongest against Uganda.
“What is most important for us is the game plans that we are working on in preparation for Uganda and getting our execution right,’’ Chiwara said. The Herald.