Teams head to Harare with eye on Olympic prize – The Namibian

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Harare Sports activities Membership will host the Rugby Africa Males’s Sevens 2023 this weekend as 12 nations compete for a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games.

Kenya and South Africa have appeared at each Olympic males’s sevens tournaments since rugby’s reintroduction to the Video games at Rio 2016, however they are going to face powerful competitors in Zimbabwe the place 10 different groups have their sights set on glory.

Algeria received the qualifying event in Mauritius in June to safe their place in Harare alongside Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, who completed second and third respectively.

They are going to be joined on Saturday’s begin line by hosts Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda and Burkina Faso.

Whoever emerges victorious from the two-day event will take their place in Paris subsequent yr alongside the already certified males’s groups of France, New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji, Australia, Uruguay, Eire and USA.

The dream is not going to be over for the runners-up or the winners of the third-place play-off, both, with each qualifying for the Olympic repechage event.

Specman bolsters Boks

Having certified for each Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 by way of their efficiency in HSBC SVNS, that is the primary time that South Africa have wanted to take the regional route after ending seventh in 2023.

Blitzboks coach Sandile Ngcobo has picked a robust squad for the event in Harare, welcoming a number of skilled gamers again into the fold.

Selvyn Davids, Zain Davids and Ronald Brown have all recovered from accidents that restricted their sport time through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Sequence 2023, whereas former Springbok wingers Rosko Specman and Travis Ismaiel have additionally made the reduce.

The return of Specman is especially well timed given captain Siviwe Soyizwapi has been dominated out by way of damage, alongside Mfundo Ndhlovu and Shaun Williams. Impi Visser will lead the aspect in Soyizwapi’s absence.

“He [Specman] will mainly exchange ‘Shakes’ (Soyizwapi) within the squad and can primarily play on the wing for us on this event. Everyone knows what he brings to a workforce,” Ngcobo mentioned.

“The return of playmakers corresponding to Selvyn, Justin and Ronald does give us good choices, however this must be a workforce effort.

“Our forwards are essential to permit the playmakers the chance to specific themselves. Nothing has modified from our ‘workforce first’ angle and philosophy.”

The Blitzboks will kick off their marketing campaign towards Pool A rivals Ivory Coast at 10:50 native time (GMT+2) on Saturday earlier than matches towards Tunisia and Madagascar.

KENYA KEEN TO MAINTAIN PROUD RECORD

5-time winners Kenya have been drawn in Pool B in Harare, alongside Zambia, Namibia and Nigeria, and can hope to place the frustration of lacking out on SVNS qualification behind them to succeed in a 3rd Video games.

The Shujaa have been overwhelmed by Canada within the last of the World Rugby Sevens Sequence 2024 Play-off at Twickenham in Might, however coach Kevin Wambua is assured his aspect has what it takes to finish a hat-trick of Olympic appearances.

Wambua has been in a position to recall Vincent Onyala, who returns as co-captain alongside Tony Omondi, as a part of an skilled squad.

“The main aim is to carry out strongly within the pool stage and safe a high place by the tip of day one, finally advancing to the quarter-finals,” Wambua mentioned.

“The squad is set and believes they’ve what it takes to excel within the competitors.”

Zimbabwe have featured in each of the 2 Olympic repechage tournaments to this point, and their quest to go one step additional will begin with matches towards Burkina Faso, Algeria and reigning champions Uganda – who beat them in final yr’s last – in Pool C.

The hosts have accomplished a week-long coaching camp in Pretoria, and the Cheetahs’ former captain Hilton Mudariki has made himself accessible to assist their push for Olympic qualification.

“I’d put sevens apart for a few years simply to deal with the 15s however having had a few conversations with (assistant) coach Ricky [Chirengende] over the past couple of months, he requested me whether or not I’d be eager about coming again and contributing in no matter manner I might in serving to the workforce qualify,” he mentioned.

“It’s one thing that I couldn’t flip down. Having simply missed out on the Olympics qualifiers in 2016 once we misplaced to Kenya and being a part of that, I believed that I needed to come again and try to give again as a lot as I might.”

The highest two groups from every pool on the finish of Saturday’s motion, in addition to the 2 greatest third-place finishers, will qualify for Sunday’s quarter-finals. – worldrugby.com 

Supply: namibian

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