Junior Sables lament Matipano loss

Under-20 coach Shaun De Souza

ZIMBABWE Under-20 coach Shaun De Souza has lamented the absence of vice-captain Tawanda Matipano ahead of the Barthes Under-20 Trophy final against rivals Namibia in Nairobi on Sunday.

The Young Sables won their semi-finals against Madagascar on Wednesday despite the loss of Matipano, who was dismissed for rough play.

Matipano was with the Goshawks squad currently competing in the Currie Cup First Division before being released for the Barthes Trophy in Kenya.

“That’s a blow as a vice-captain. I’m sure he regrets his actions. The rough play from Madagascar got the better of him. We did travel with 25 players so we have plans for these ‘what ifs’ eventualities. We will have a full arsenal ready for Sunday’s final I can assure you,” De Souza.

After the dominant 32-3 victory against last year’s finalists Madagascar, the Young Sables will be seeking a victory against Nambia which would secure their ticket to next year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy.

De Souza, however, is not yet satisfied with his team’s performance.

“Madagascar was exactly what we expected, rough, tough and nifty. I’m very disappointed with our players’ discipline. We knew that this would be a rough encounter, but still let emotions take over. Defensively, we improved from our last game and didn’t concede a try today so that is a plus. We still have work to do in the defensive system as it’s a process,” De Souza said.

He is expecting a tough encounter against Nambia, who secured their place in the final by upstaging the hosts and defending champions Kenya 16-5 in the other semifinal.

“I know they are looking forward to playing us and will be on a high after that win.”

“The rivalry between Zimbabwe and Namibia is definitely something we cannot hide from. And we cannot fail to consider the fact that they are ranked higher than us, so we are still the underdog in this final.”

De Souza told NewsDay that the young team has a lot more in store as they prepare for the finals.

“In knock out tournaments you can’t throw all your cards out at once you still have to manage the squad and find a balance. Today, we did just that with the changes in starting lineup and replacements.”

“Yes, we have watched Namibia play two fixtures. They have played well in both games and are looking strong. We will review those games tomorrow as that’s our focus going forward as we work on strategies and tactics for the finals.”

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