Welwitchias face Senegal tomorrow

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-After getting their Africa Rugby Gold Cup campaign off to a superb start with a comprehensive 53-7 win over Tunisia, Namibia’s senior rugby side, the Welwitschias, will this weekend return to action when they confront Senegal for their second Gold Cup encounter at the Hage Geingob Stadium in the capital.

Namibia, who have won the last three editions of the Gold Cup – in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – currently occupy second spot on the table, tied with Zimbabwe on five points at the top but only separated by points difference.

Although tomorrow’s clash against the visiting north Africans is not expected to be an easy assignment for the homeboys, the Welwitschias have often in the past demonstrated the capability to rise to the occasion when it is so required, and the same attitude they displayed in their last match against Tunisia will again be expected against Senegal.

Physically and in terms of aggression, the Senegalese can at times be very unpredictable and can cause a lot of trouble if they are left unchecked, but the Namibians have a much superior technique and will definitely give the visitors much trouble with their speed and ball-carrying finesse.

The continental showpiece’s action will not only be limited to Windhoek this weekend, as there will also be action in Nairobi when Kenya host Tunisia.

The Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which serves as 2019 World Cup qualifiers, features Namibia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Namibia, who are a tier-two nation in the World Rugby tier system and have participated in five World Cups since their first appearance in 1999, are hot favourites to qualify again.
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup will be played on a round robin basis until August 5, with the winner not only being crowned Gold Cup winners but also qualifying for the World Cup.

Namibia, with several of their players turning out for Super Rugby teams based in South Africa, are ranked 21 in the world and will be hard to beat. Kenya, at 23 in the rankings, will be their toughest opponents. They will face each other in the last round, on July 29, in Windhoek.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup takes place in Japan from September 20 to November 2 and will be played across 12 venues.

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