By Ricky Zililo
Zimbabwe Sevens rugby coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba says the Cheetahs need adequate preparations to post desired results in future competitions after seeing the national team failing to get automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan.
The Cheetahs finished third at the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens tournament held in South Africa last weekend behind champions Kenya and Uganda.
Reviewing the Cheetahs’ campaign after watching them winning five of their six games, Nyamutsamba said adequate planning will be key to Zimbabwe’s attempt to qualify for the Olympics through the repechage to be staged in June next year.
“We had a good outing this weekend and we came third overall from the 14 strong teams. It wasn’t the result we obviously wanted, but it’s a welcome result as it still leaves the door open for us to decide our destiny as regards the Olympic berth. Congratulations to Kenya.
‘‘Our work is cut out going forward as we strive to reclaim the top spot in African Sevens Rugby and qualify for the Olympics,” said Nyamutsamba.
“The tournament was an affirmation on the ever-increasing need for a well-planned continuity programme for all our players and early preparations. These would be key for us to do well in the next tournaments leading to the repechage.
“Our standard of play has definitely improved and winning five out of the six games says a lot about the pedigree of our players.
‘‘I have respect for the team; they rose above and beyond the call of duty and I know they left it all out there. I can only be proud of the team,” he said.
The Cheetahs are hoping to use the non-core mini-series tournaments to be held in South America, Chile and Uruguay in February and Hong Kong in April to prepare for the Olympic repachage.
The Cheetahs beat Nigeria 24-21 in the first round. They went on to beat the West Africans 47-0 in group stages, Zambia (19-7) and Madagascar (15-12).
Zimbabwe went on to lose 24-12 to Uganda, to miss out on a place in the final.
Nyamutsamba noted that Kenya and Uganda’s qualification was prefixed on long-term deliberate bias in investing in their preparations.
“As a nation we should really appreciate being on the podium for the bronze medal given where we are coming from.
‘‘This year the powers that be (ZRU) decided to focus on the Victoria Cup, and we won the Victoria Cup, congratulations to the Sables. However, Kenya and Uganda concentrated all their efforts and resources on the sevens Olympic qualifiers and their results speak volumes on the investment they made in sevens rugby,” Nyamutsamba said. The Chronicle