CHEETAHS captain Jacques Leitao is confident Zimbabwe will successfully defend the Zimbabwe Spar International Sevens tournament which roars into life in Harare today.
REPORT BY SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Besides winning the title, Zimbabwe will be concerned about testing themselves against top nations ahead of their participation at the World Cup in Moscow.
Georgia is an imposing opposition, but the home side will be expected to progress from their pool where they also play Zambia.
Leitao told reporters at a Press conference yesterday they were ready for the tournament. “We are glad to be back home. It will be a tough competition and it will be good to see how far we go as we prepare for the World Cup,” said Leitao.
Zimbabwe have been playing away since they won the Zimbabwe Spar International Sevens tournament at its inauguration last year.
Neighbours Zambia who carry the underdogs tag going into the tournament acknowledged they were under pressure.
“We understand the pressure that is on us. We have played Zimbabwe before, but it will be tough. We will be playing Georgia for the first time, but we hope to have a good outing,” said team captain Tom Chaloba.
Georgia have brought a 12-member squad comprising mostly young players whom they want to get the exposure ahead of forthcoming bigger tournaments. He said the tournament would help them identify their weaknesses and strengths ahead of future tournaments.
Team manager Nono Andguladse expressed confidence with his youthful side. “We have brought a squad of 12 players. There are mostly young players and we want them to gain experience from this tournament.
“It’s a very important tournament to us as we prepare for the International Rugby Sevens tournament. It will give us an opportunity to identify our strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good build up to the tournament,” said Andguladse.
Kenya, who are in Pool B alongside Hong Kong and the Zambezi Warriors, have also brought young players for the tournament and coach Felix Oching said they were excited to be competing in the event.
“We are really excited to compete in this tournament. It’s good for our young players to be exposed to a big tournament like this. We will use it to prepare for the International Rugby Sevens tournament in June. We want to see how the players we have will perform as we prepare for the coming tournaments, but hope to win,” said Oching.