ZIMBABWE national 15’s rugby team captain Daniel Hondo is confident his side will pull an upset on fancied Russia when the two teams clash in a 2015 Rugby World Cup play-off in Siberia tomorrow.
The Sables narrowly missed on automatic ticket to qualify for the England World Cup after coming second to Namibia in the initial qualifiers played in Madagascar last month and will now have to go through the play-off route to go through.
If they manage to pull off an upset on the Bears, the Sables will qualify for the final round qualifier where they will meet either Uruguay or Hong Kong — two teams ranked above Zimbabwe in the International Rugby Board (IRB) rankings.
Uruguay and Hong Kong also clash tomorrow.
Despite the gruelling play-off route that they will now have to take, Hondo is confident in his team.
He feels his charges have put the Madagascar heartbreak behind them and are completely focused on the game at hand.
“We have just come out of the Continental African Rugby tournament (in Madagascar), which we did well although we didn’t qualify, so we are a group of confident players. We have come together this week and we are going through the paces with a common goal of qualifying for the World Cup. We are not worried about what Russia has done, but we are focusing on ourselves and what we want to achieve,” said Hondo.
The Sables arrived in Russia on Sunday and have had two sessions a day since Monday, a gym session in the morning, an on field session in the afternoon.
They had a break on Wednesday for recovery before continuing with their programme yesterday morning.
“Definitely, we haven’t gotten here by default nor by chance, we are a good team and we are here for a win and nothing short of that.
“We got in here (Krasnoyarsk, Russia) and we had a good rest before we did a light loosening training on Sunday. Thereafter, we have been training hard at the field sessions and in the gym sessions that we have had so far. As for the game plan, well I cannot disclose that at this point, but we are going out there to win,” added Hondo.
The one-off match tomorrow – the first ever meeting between the Sables and the Bears — will be refereed by Nigel Owens of Wales with fellow countrymen Sean Brickell and Wayne Davies appointed as assistant referees.
Following the conclusion of the CAR Africa Cup, Zimbabwe are currently ranked 27th in the IRB World Rankings – seven places below the Bears, who have yet to taste victory since Raphael Saint-Andre replaced Kingsley Jones as head coach for the IRB Nations Cup in June.
A place in the two-leg Repechage final awaits the winner of both matches as the race to secure a place at England 2015 reaches its climax.
The winner of the Repechage will join Australia, England, Wales and Fiji in Pool A of Rugby’s pinnacle tournament next year.