Welwitschias face Zimbabwe tomorrow

WINDHOEK, 20 August 2016 - Action between Welwitschias' Lesley Klim and Leopard players during the Currie Cup match at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek. (Photo by: Hesron Kapanga) NAMPA

Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-Namibia’s senior rugby fifteen will this weekend look to preserve their dominance at the top of the Africa Gold Cup log when they face a determined Zimbabwe at Hage Geingob Stadium in the capital on Saturday for their continental rugby showpiece.

As the reigning African champions, having won the last three editions of the Africa Gold Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Namibia have so far had a gleaming journey in their quest to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Just last weekend, Namibia humiliated Senegal when they hammered the west African country with 15 unanswered tries, to win the match 95-0 on home soil, a resounding victory that propelled Namibia to the top of the competition’s log stable. Prior to the Senegal victory, the Namibians were also 53-7 winners over Tunisia.

With last weekend’s victory over Senegal, Namibia took charge of proceedings atop the Gold Cup log with 10 points, three points ahead of Kenya, who also recorded an impressive 100-10 win over struggling Tunisia in Nairobi.

Turning their attention to Saturday’s encounter against the Zimbabwean Sables, Namibia, as expected, will be up and ready to waive any threats that the visitors might throw their way, but one thing about the Zimbabweans is that they have always proven to be a serious menace when it comes to playing physical rugby, complemented by good ball-carrying skills.

The Zimbabwean team is also known for its strong and enterprising backline and their general ability to adjust when the match so desires. But be as it may, the Namibians’ dominance in this competition – especially for the past three years – is proof enough that they are not to be taken lightly. And any opposition daring to challenge them in their backyard should come well-armed.

To put it candidly, Namibia’s overall technique, speed and their ever-evolving ball-handling elegance have so far been unmatched since the competition started and the dominance they have shown in their recent victories should serve as a clear warning to the Zimbabweans.

Another great aspect of the Namibians team is that their side is made up of a fine mixture of talent from various age groups, comprising of highly experienced senior players and a selection of motivated young players all eager to make their mark on the bigger stage.

The Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which serves as 2019 World Cup qualifiers, features Namibia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Namibia, a tier-two nation in the World Rugby tier system – participated in five World Cups since their first appearance in 1999 and are hot favourites to qualify again.

The Gold Cup is played on a round robin basis until August 5, with the winner not only being crowned Gold Cup winner, but also qualifying for the World Cup. 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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