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Zimbabwe wary of speedy, skilled Simbas

Zimbabwe’s Dylan Baptiste during training at the RFUEA Ground on June 29, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 29- The last time the Zimbabwe Sables played in Nairobi, they ran off 26-21 winners against the Simbas at the Nyayo National Stadium to clinch the Victoria Cup in 2011.

Assistant coach Brendan Dawson now deputizing South African Peter de Villiers was head coach then.

Dawson speaking on Friday evening after the team had their final training session before Saturday afternoon’s Rugby Africa Gold Cup tie at the RFUEA Ground has warned Kenya they should expect the same result, but was quick to add that they will be facing a tough opponent.

“I have played here before as a coach and as a player and this is not new ground for me. I have been here, won against Kenya and also lost. But the last time I was here, we were winners. We know how to do it,” the tactician told Capital Sport.

The Southern Africans carry a better head to head tally against Kenya, having won 12 of the last 19 meetings between the two.

Zimbabwe players walk out after a training session at the RFUEA Ground on June 29, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The most painful of the wins Zimbabwe has had over Kenya was in July 2014 when they beat Simbas 27-10 in Harare to crush their World Cup dreams.

However, ahead of Saturday’s clash, Zimbabwe know history will count to nothing especially when the tie is a crucial aspect of the qualification to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

“We expect a very tough game because Kenya is a very aggressive side and they play the ball out wide well at high tempo. They have very skilled players who can play the ball well and we need to come out really hard in defense,” Dawson said.

He added; “It will be very big competition on the field and that should make for an interesting match. We know they can be quite solid at home but at this stage, I don’t think there’s really much about home advantage.”

Zimbabwe head coach Peter de Villiers during a training session at the RFUEA Ground on June 29, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Zimbabwe started the competition on the wrong footing, picking a 23-23 draw at home against promoted Morocco. Kenya on their side started off beating the North Africans 28-24 at their backyard in Casablanca.

Dawson says that result will have no bearing for Saturday’s game.

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“Morocco should not be underestimated because they have improved drastically. It was a tough game playing them and honestly we are happy with the point we got. We move into the second match completely different from the first game and we want to pick a win,” the coach further said.

The acquisition of former South African coach Peter de Villiers was a statement of intent from the Sables and Dawson says that he has brought in a lot of positive influence in the team.

Zimbabwe starting line up

1. Denford Mutamangira 2. David Makanda 3. Farai Mudariki 4. Johannes Stander 5. Fortunate Chipendu 6. Takudzwa Mandiwanza 7. Connor Pritchard 8. Tapfuma Parirenyatwa 9. Ernest Mudzengerere 10. Lenience Tambwera 11. Mathew McNab 12. Brandon Mandivenga 13. Kudzai Mashawi 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 15. Shingirai Katsvere


16. Mathew Mandioma 17. Cleopas Kundiona 18. Lawrence Cleminson 19. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa 20. Brian Nyaude 21. Jeremiah Jaravaza 22. Tafadzwa Mhende 23. Dylan Baptista

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