By Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
THE Sables technical department has named a strong squad for Zimbabwe’s Rugby Africa Cup opener against Côte d’Ivoire in Marseille, France, this Friday.
The Sables are not leaving anything to chance after head coach, Brendan Dawson named a strong 15-men squad.
Tapiwa Mafura, who has just won the Currie Cup with the Pumas of South Africa, starts at full-back while Shingi Katsvere and Shayne Makombe complete a strong back three.
Hong Kong-based Nyasha Tarusenga will wear the number 8 jersey, while South African-born Jason Fraiser and Kelvin Kanenungo complete the loose trio.
“We don’t know much about Ivory Coast apart from their match against Algeria but we know they are very strong with most of their players playing in France,” said Dawson.
Namibia, who represented Africa alongside South Africa at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, will play Burkina Faso this Friday followed by the match pitting the Zimbabwe Sables and Côte d’Ivoire as eight sides battle for a place at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The quarterfinals will continue on Saturday with the East African derby between Kenya and Uganda getting the ball rolling followed by the Senegal – Algeria clash.
The first semi-final is set for July 6 with the winner of the match between Uganda and Kenya facing the winner of the other quarterfinal between Senegal and Algeria.
Either Namibia or Burkina Faso will take on the winner of the match between Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire in the second semi-final on July 7.
The winner of the eight-team knockout competition will return to France 14 months later for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Whoever finishes as runners-up after the much-anticipated Rugby Africa Cup final on the 10th of July will still have a chance of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup through the Final Qualification Tournament.
Zimbabwe are hoping to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup since 1991.