HARARE – Sables coach Cyprian Mandenge (pictured) has bemoaned the absence of some of his key players ahead of the team’s first Test match of 2017 away to Senegal in the Africa Cup on June 24.
The Zimbabwe national rugby side travel to Dakar hoping to kick-start their Africa Cup campaign on a positive note.
Some of the notable absentees include eighthman Kinglsey Lang, prop Farai Mudariki, wing Gardener Nechironga and flank Njabulo Ndlovu.
This year’s revamped competition will see six teams battling it out for the 2019 World Cup qualification in a round-robin format with the bottom two teams being eliminated from the qualifiers.
After the trip to Dakar, the Sables will then travel to Windhoek to face Namibia on July 15 before coming back home to host Kenya the following weekend and Tunisia on July 29.
Mandenge’s side will round up their campaign with another trip to Uganda on August 5.
“I’m happy with what I have though I would have wanted everyone to be available and fight for positions,” Mandenge told the Daily News.
“It’s unfortunate I can’t get everyone but who knows this can be the group that will take us all the way, because you can’t drop someone who would have performed. They just have to grab the opportunity and make the position theirs forever.”
The Sables gaffer said he wants the best for his charges so that they can only concentrate on playing rugby.
“We need to focus on the job at hand and not worry about all the other side issues. The job is for us to go and come back with a result, we need to start well,” he said.
“There are a lot of challenges around us but we need to stay focused and not get destructed. Once you put your body on the line to play for your national team you have to defend it with all your heart.”
The Sables squad is expected to troop into camp tomorrow as they begin their preparations for the Senegal match.
“Senegal are big and physical we just need to play smart,” Mandenge said.
Sables training squad:
Forwards: Denford Mutamangira, Lawrence Cleminson, Irvine Nduwa, Brian Makamure, Tolerance Zishe, Graham Cochran, Takudzwa Bvunzawabaya, Brian Nyaude, Witness Mandizha, Fortune Chipendo, George Saungweme, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Conner Pritchard, Biselele Tshamala, Lucky Sithole, Osborne Muhambi.
Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Scotty Jones, Joshua Gando, Tichafara Makwanya, Lenience Tambwera, Gideon Muyambo, Tarisai Mugaviri, Dan Capsopoulos, Boyd Rouse, Ngoni Chibuwe, Stephan Hunduza, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Tadius Hwata, Tinashe Gwisai.