BY Enock Muchinjo in Uganda
IN NORMAL circumstances, it will be seen as some kind of crisis for Zimbabwe that they will play today’s Victoria Cup match against Uganda without both their first-choice fly-half and the second.
New Sables captain and preferred number 10 Brandon Mandivenga is out for the rest of the season with a nagging ankle injury.
Then the promising 21-year-old Jerry Jaravaza, who is being groomed as the alternative in the playmaking role of the Sables, is also ruled out of tomorrow’s
game due to commitments elsewhere.
While Mandivenga has the comfort of being a utility back — able to play nearly anywhere in that department — it is Jaravaza who is perhaps a more exciting
prospect in the fly-half position.
For someone so young, Jaravaza is still an apprentice at international level, but he has shown a natural ability to attack the gain line and keep the
opposition on their toes.
Now with both Mandivenga and Jaravaza missing today, the number 10 shirt has been handed to another youngster, the 22-year-old Kuziwakwashe Kazembe — whose
regular position is scrumhalf.
It’s a big gamble for Sables coach Brendan Dawson, but to go with the mood in Zimrugby right now, it is one that is worth taking.
Most of the young players to emerge onto the scene in Zimbabwean rugby in recent times have not taken too long to settle in the side.
And there is some history to it for Kazembe to draw inspiration from. Interestingly, it also involves Uganda.
Last year when Zimbabwe needed to beat the Ugandans in Kampala to avoid relegation from the elite group of the Africa Cup, another rookie halfback, the number
nine Ernest Mudzengerere, emerged as one of the heroes of the rescue mission.
Filling the big shoes of Hilton Mudariki, Mudzengerere turned in a blinder in the 38-18 win over the Cranes, whose loyal supporters are once again expected to
fill the Kyadondo Rugby Club this afternoon, eager to avenge last year’s home defeat.
The camaraderie effect in the current Sables squad will also greatly help a young player like Kazembe, who has had a heavy burden placed on his shoulders in a
key position that can determine the result of a game.
Indeed, he will however, not be shot of backing.
Tonderai Chavhanga, the former Springbok wing now working closely with Zimbabwe’s backline in an assistant coach role, is particularly fond of the youngsters
in that department of the team.
Chavhanga, after Zimbabwe’s maiden season in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, said the team had an “exciting and versatile backline”, a remark that fits in
perfectly well with the shuffling and positional changes we have seen in the side recently.
Zim starting line-up
15. Martin Mangongo 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 13. Shayne Makombe 12. Ngoni Chibuwe 11. Matthew McNab 10. Kuziwakwashe Kazembe 9. Hilton Mudariki (captain), 8.
Aiden Burnett 7. Brian Nyaude 6. Blithe Mavesere 5. Godfrey Muzanargwo 4. Jan Ferreira 3. David Makanda 2. Matthew Mandioma 1. Tyran Fagan.
Subs: 16. Keith Murray 17. Tatenda Rwenyu 18. Royal Mwale 19. Biselele Tshamala 20. Njabulo Ndlovu 21. Dudlee White-Sharpley 22. Rufaro Chikwaira 23. Takudzwa