Monday, June 30, 2014

African RWC Qualification - Round 1

Special Report by Benedict Chanakira

South Africa one of world rugby's powerhouses are the only side from Africa with automatic entry into the Rugby World Cup. One spot is up for grabs and Zimbabwe,  Madagascar, Namibia and Kenya are vying for it. Whoever finishes top will qualify and face the daunting task of playing the New Zealand All Blacks. Runner up will have another bite at the cherry by facing Russia. That will be a much more difficult route.

After round one we have Zimbabwe top of the group and that is thanks to an easy win after a close first half against the hosts, Madagascar. Not much could be taken from this clash as the forward onslaught Zimbabwe gave the Madagascar pack was expected.  Madagascar had a rather light weight team. While they lacked in brawn, they made it up in elusive and quick play. When it went right they displayed silky hands and skills which exposed defensive frailties in the Sables side. Zimbabwe did the business though and coach Brendan Dawson will be pleased, but if a first appearance at the World Cup since 1991 is to be realized a few tweaks must be made.

Towards the end the machine was in full steam ahead.A tough test awaits next and this should shed light on how good the Zimbabweans really are. A win over their arch-rivals Namibia for the first time in over a decade should see the Sables take a huge stride towards England 2015.

Namibia will have to pick themselves up quickly. A shock loss at the hands of a well prepared Kenya side blew this tournament open and threw a curve ball to all spectators.Kenya are now favorites to go to the World Cup. They showed character, determination and hunger. It looked as though at 12-0; Namibia would run away with it but Kenya had other ideas.

As we  approach the second round we can expect more clarity. I firmly believe Kenya will beat Madagascar. To set up a potential final with Zimbabwe should they over-come the mental barrier that is beating the Namibians. Namibia need to win to keep their hopes alive. All to play for in this game.Whatever happens we expect a cracker of a wednesday. There are still twists in this Tournament and we hope whoever qualifies will fly Africa's flag high.

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