THE Zimbabwe Sevens Rugby team were yesterday handed a fair draw for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth this weekend.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO SPORTS REPORTER
The draw was conducted live on television before the Cup final of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, the second round of the 2012/13 season won by Samoa.
Zimbabwe were handed what looks like a fairly easy draw on paper, after being pitted alongside fellow upcoming teams, Portugal, Canada and USA in Pool D.
The Cheetahs, as the team is affectionately known, left for South Africa yesterday ahead of the tournament, on Saturday and Sunday at the iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Gilbert Nyamutsamba-coached side opens their campaign against Canada before taking on Portugal and USA later in the day. Their next opponents to the latter stages of the competition will only be determined by results from the three Pool matches.
Zimbabwe, who are likely to enjoy a lot of support from Zimbabweans based in South Africa, go into the tournament with a star- studded side of tried and tested veterans on the circuit.
The Cheetahs’ absence from this weekend’s Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens could also act as an added advantage for the side as their opponents could be affected by fatigue after back-to-back tournaments.
Zimbabwe will rely on their flair and speed from the likes of prolific winger Wesley Mbanje, utility man Gardner Nechironga, Tendai Nemadire and Danny Hondo.
Skipper Jacques Leitao, South Africa-based forward Njabulo Ndlovu, Fortune Chipendo and the returning France-based Garth Ziegler will also provide the Cheetahs with some grit and brute force upfront.
Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Draw
Pool A: Samoa, France, South Africa, Australia
Pool B: New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England
Pool C: Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain
Pool D: Portugal, Canada, USA, Zimbabwe
Cheetahs Squad: Fortune Chipendo, Jacques Leitao, Njabulo Ndlovu, Justin Coles, Lucky Sithole, Tangai Nemadire, Kilvan Magunje, Daniel Hondo, Gardner Nechironga, Garth Ziegler, Wes Mbanje, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo