The Zimbabwe Women’s Sevens rugby team left the country on Thursday for Botswana for the Confederation of African Rugby South/East African Women’s Championships in Gaborone this weekend.
This will be the first time the Pangolins will be playing competitive rugby since going down to rivals Zambia in the final of the Castle Sevens tournament in Lusaka two months ago.
Zimbabwe face an uphill task at the tournament after they were handed a tough draw which will see them battle it out in Pool A with powerhouses South Africa, bitter rivals Zambia and Rwanda.
Pool B has hosts Botswana, Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar.
Only the top two teams from each group advance to the final qualifying round for the 2013 Women’s Sevens Rugby World Cup qualifiers early next year.
South Africa, who boast very strong women’s rugby structures, will be clear favourites to not only top Pool A, but win the tournament while Zambia has for long been Zimbabwe’s bogey side.
Pangolins coach Abigail Govere, in women’s rugby structures since 2006, admitted her team would be playing against quality opposition, but promised they would give it their best.
“The South African women’s rugby team has probably had more exposure that any other team on the continent, having taken part at the last World Cup Dubai in 2009 where they reached the semi-finals.
“The girls have to be at their best to do well as there are not going to be any easy games. Although we have not played any competitive matches as a team since the Castle Sevens, the team has been working hard and I believe we have a strong squad capable of doing well,” said Govere.
The Pangolins will bank on the experience of some of their senior players like Charity Muchuchuti, who was named the Player of the Tournament in Zambia, captain Abigail Gondo and Lucia Marisamhuka.
Pangolins Squad: Abigail Govere (captain), Charity Muchuchuti, Ashley Chikambira, Lillian Mapinye, Margret Magwaro, Nothando Ndlovu, Lucia Marisamhuka, Jacqueline Chironga, Abigail Gondo, Precious Marange, Simbisai Kadye, Tatenda Chitewe, Octavia Munhamo, Precious Pazani
Coach: Abigail Govere
Assistant coach: George Mukorera
Physiotherapist: Abigail Mnikwa
Head of delegation: Aisha Tsimba