Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE have qualified for the 2018 Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco, United States of America despite losing 10-7 to Uganda in the Africa Cup men’s final played at Legends Rugby Grounds in Kampala yesterday.
Besides the World Cup, the Gilbert Nyamutsamba mentored Cheetahs will also have a shot at the Sevens World Series core status at the Hong Kong qualifier to be held from 6 to 8 April.
Nyamutsamba last night said they are now not just a sevens rugby team as they will get to compete with the world’s best at the 24-team tournament.
He paid tribute to his players, everyone who played a part behind the scenes and Delta Beverages who are the team sponsors through their Zambezi Lager brand.
“The real work has started, we are now not just a sevens rugby team, we are a team that will compete with the best 24 teams in the world and we have to leave a mark. I am truly honoured to lead a bunch of humble dedicated gentlemen that will give all they have for love and pride of the country,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
He was also in charge when the Cheetahs qualified for the last edition of the Sevens Rugby World Cup, held in 2013 in Russia.
Zimbabwe led the home team 7-0 going into the half-time break after Kenyan referee Victor Oduor awarded the Cheetahs a penalty try for a high tackle on wing Stephan Hunduza by Pius Ogena.
Zimbabwe went all out in attack at the start of the second half but were left to rue the wasted try scoring opportunities when Uganda scored two tries to be crowned African champions for the second year in a row. James Odongo and Adrian Kasito were the try scorers for the Ugandans. Zimbabwe finished second in the qualifers to claim a spot in the World Cup with tournament winners Uganda.
Zimbabwe Cheetahs squad: Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Scotty Jones, Stephan Hunduza, Ngoni Chibuwe, Shingirai Hlanguyo, Njabulo Ndlovu, Hilton Mudariki(captain), Body Rouse, Mkhululi Ndlela, Nelson Madida.