Kenya . . . . . . . . (5) 5
Zimbabwe . . . . . . (7) 17
The Zimbabwe national Sevens rugby team overcame a combination of poor preparations and the absence of some key players to win their first Africa Men’s Sevens title in six years following a shock 17-5 victory over continental heavyweights Kenya in the Tunisian city of Monastir yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Led by inspirational skipper Stephan Hunduza, the Cheetahs went ahead through a fifth minute converted try from Shingirai Katsvere. That was despite being a man down after an early yellow card to scrum-half Tarisai Mugariri.
Kenya responded with an unconverted try at the stroke of half time through a Brian Wahinya after an interchange with Cyprian Kuto for Zimbabwe to head to the break leading 7-5.
The Cheetahs were however always in control against their higher ranked opponents and stretched their lead soon after the halftime break through Takudzwa Kumadiro, who had been sent through by Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.
Chitokwindo ensured the Cheetahs capped off a memorable week against the odds with another try late in the match after being released by Hunduza.
The win meant the Cheetahs not only secured their first continental title since 2012 and third overall since 2000 but also ensured they qualified for the Dubai, Cape Town and Hong Kong legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
It was also even more special for Gilbert Nyamutsamba and his charges as they went to Tunisia without holding a training camp and also missing the services of several key players.
Skipper Hilton Mudariki and Boyd Rouse who are both based in the United Kingdom as well as Shayne Makombe who plays club rugby in France as well as South Africa-based Riaan O’Niell all missed the trip to Tunisia.
However, the Cheetahs, who were runners up at the Africa Cup in 2017 after losing 10-7 to host nation Uganda in the final, still managed to produce a memorable performance against the odds.
Zimbabwe went into the final day unbeaten after registering comfortable wins over Mauritius (34-0) and hosts Tunisia (26-5) in the pool stages on Saturday before comfortably beating Senegal 19-0 in the quarter-finals early yesterday.
The Cheetahs produced by far their best display of the weekend in the semifinals against defending champions Uganda after erasing a 19-0 half time deficit to dethrone the 2016 and 2018 champions 24-19 in extra time.