Reality check for Cheetahs ahead of Africa Cup

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BY RICHARD ZIMUNYA

ZIMBABWE’S national Sevens rugby team, the Cheetahs were handed a reality check ahead of the Africa Cup Sevens in Uganda in two weeks’ time after being upstaged by Botswana club Spartans in the Zambezi Sevens Challenge at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

The Cheetahs were upstaged in the semi-finals by Spartans, who went on to be crowned the winners of the regional two-day competition after beating Zambia 26-14 in a rain-drenched final.

Laden with Zimbabwean expatriates, the Botswana side stunned the hosts with an oustanding performance which saw them upstage the Cheetahs 15-17 on their home turf in the semi-finals.

Gaborone-based Zimbabwean Pride Nyameni, who was impressive for Spartan, was named player of the tournament.

Cheetahs finished third after edging Zambia B side 17-10 in the third-place playoff.

Cheetahs head coach Graham Kaulback expressed disappointment with his team’s performance.

“Obviously, I am disappointed with the end result, but we are in a process. Yes, as the national team, we do want to win everything, but looking at the positive side, we have learnt a lot ahead of our do or die coming Africa Cup.

“So, it is really good to have these preparatory tournaments. We are disappointed with the end result, but confident with the process that we have used,” he said.

Spartans coach Jeremy Babbage was over the moon after his side upstaged their much fancies opponents.

“It’s an amazing feeling I never expected us to win, but here we are. We are over the moon right now.

“My boys were underdogs prior to this but here we are champions,” he said.

The Zambezi Challenge Cup was organised by Zimbabwe Rugby Union to give Cheetahs more game time ahead of their World Cup qualifiers match against Uganda next weekend.

In the ladies competition, Lady Cheetahs, who are also preparing for their continental qualifiers in Tunisia were crowned champions after beating their Zambian counterparts 12-5 in an entertaining final.

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