ZIMBABWE will travel with a depleted side after naming several uncapped players in the 31-member provisional Sables squad for next week’s Emirates Airline Cup of Nations in Dubai.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO SPORTS REPORTER
The Sables will miss several key players, who were on Thursday named in the Zimbabwe Sevens squad for next weekend’s Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth.
Head coach Brendon Dawson will have to do without virtually his entire regular backline in the absence of Daniel Hondo, Tangai Nemadire, Wes Mbanje and Gardner Nechironga.
The forwards department has been spared with regulars such as Jacques Leitao, Njabulo Ndlovu and Fortune Chipendu not part of the flagship rugby side.
Sables team manager Losson Mtongwiza admitted that the absence of the Sevens stars would be a huge blow to the team’s plans.
“Their absence is definitely a huge blow for the team. They are all experienced players who have played at the top level.
We would have obviously needed the services of experienced players such as Danny Hondo, Tangai Nemadire, Gardner Nechironga and Wes Mbanje.
“However, in terms of planning for the future, it’s also a blessing in disguise that they will be unavailable. We aim to build a big player base ahead of the last phase of the World Cup qualifiers. I believe this tour will be a good opportunity for the new players to get exposure and to make an impression,” said Mtongwiza.
Among the crop of newcomers in the 31-member squad is the UK-based duo of Tommy Nelson and John Miller, who together with seasoned Scotland-based flank Shingi Mpofu, will connect directly to Dubai from their bases.
Varsity Cup star back Ricky Chirengende, Old Georgians’ Nic Winwood and Harare Sports Club lively centre Steven Hunduza and John McWade will also be hoping to make the travelling party.
The squad is expected to start camp tomorrow and the technical squad will name a squad of 25 players for the tournament before their departure next Wednesday.
The Sables will play their first match next Saturday against defending champions Hong Kong before taking on Belgium on Tuesday.
The African champions will wind down their tour with a tie against the hosts United Arab Emirates on Friday.
Sables provisional squad
Forwards: Tapiwa Mangezi, Fidel Nyabusha, Pieter Joubert, Nic Winwood, Keith Murray, Simba Musarurwa, Tatenda Karuru, Brian Makamure, Costa Dinha, Jan Ferreira, Sanile Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Shingirai Mpofu, Lucky Sithole, Takunda Chifokoyo, Samson Makuku
Backs: Ricky Chirengende, Graham Kaulback, Scotty Jones, Philimon Machisa, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafara Makwanya, Tommy Nelson, Johnny Miller, Japhet Ndebele, Gavin Nyawata, Kuda Chiwanza, Shane Makombe, Steven Hunduza, John McWade, Josh Rowe