HARARE – Smarting from yet another World Cup qualification failure, Zimbabwe have selected a side made up of national Under-20 players for the Victoria Cup opener with Uganda in Kampala on Saturday in the country’s first step back to the drawing board.

Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side was crowned African champions in April following an upset 19-14 win over Namibia in the final of the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy in Kenya.

Hopes were high that the senior side, the Sables, would replicate the achievement by winning the Africa Cup in France a fortnight ago to clinch the continent’s sole World Cup qualification place.

But the Sables were overpowered 34-19 in the semi-finals by Namibia, who later outclassed Kenya 34-0 in the final to qualify for their seventh consecutive World Cup appearance.

And now the Zimbabweans have chosen to start rebuilding early, beginning with the yearly three-nation Victoria Cup, which has third side Kenya.

Utility back Takudzwa Musingwini, who captained the Young Sables to victory in Kenya in April, leads the side in Kampala. Musingwini and Brendon Marume, another back, were in Zimbabwe’s senior squad for the World Cup qualifiers in France.

Coach Shaun De Souza, the former Zimbabwe star backliner who guided the Young Sables to glory in Nairobi, has been handed the reins for the Uganda trip as interim coach of the experimental senior team.

The team will play as Goshawks, Zimbabwe’s official none-Test side.

Whilst the majority of the squad to play on Saturday were part of the Under-20 Africa Cup-winning team, a few that weren’t in Nairobi for various reasons will feature against the Ugandans – most notably hooker Tawanda Banda, fly-half Ben Pattenden, outside-centre Carl Kawodza and replacement forward Andrew Rinomhota.

The Zimbabwean team will arrive in Uganda just before mid-night Friday, hours before the match.


Starting line-up: 1. Farai Madzima 2. Tawanda Banda 3. Nqobile Manyara 4. Simbarashe Siraha 5. Tanaka Gondo-Mukandapi 6. Tanaka Ndoro 7. Tendai Chinyama 8. Tamuka Kambani 9. Panashe Zuze 10. Ben Pattenden 11. Liberty Sibanda 12. Alex Nyamuda 13. Carl Kawodza 14. Tavonga Ablant 15. Takudzwa Musingwini (captain).

Subs: 16. Takunda Mudzingwa 17. Marlon Guwuriro 18. Martin Hakunavanhu 19. Andrew Rinomhota 20. Denzel Maramba 21. Tanaka Ndabambi 22. Brendon Marume 23. Tawanda Matipano.


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