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‘Guys need a win badly’: Bruised Zim desperate for results in Accra fête



A COMBINED 171 international white-ball cricket caps. A two-time Currie Cup winner in consecutive seasons. A long-serving Test rugby captain, one of Africa’s most respected players in the sport. Seasoned Davis Cup tennis campaigners alongside their non-playing captain. An Olympic sprinter, the country’s fastest man. 

You can go on and add more, if you know the Zimbabwean sporting landscape in-depth.

The composition of Zimbabwe’s delegation to the African Games in Ghanaian capital Accra reads like a mini-Olympics touring party, for a continental event that should have been a timely opportunity to start afresh in a nation going through a rough patch on the sporting front.

By all means, the African Games must be respected. However, in the same vein, participating nations have a duty to protect the integrity of not only their athletes, but also the standing of the different sporting codes represented.

 Sending athletes who fit that level of competition cannot therefore be understated in this professional era.

Priorities need to be set right and in this regard there will be some questions asked of some members of the different Zimbabwean teams off to Ghana. 

Zimbabwe, one of the only 12 full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the world, have selected five full international players in their squad for cricket’s African Games debut. They have resisted what looked like the logical thing to do, taking an entirely developmental side to kick-start a painstaking rebuilding process following a string of disastrous results that have left a huge dent on the reputation of Zimbabwean cricket.

The 23-year-old national team wicketkeeper Clive Madande captains the side in Accra and is accompanied by four other internationally-capped Zimbabwe players in Tadiwanashe Marumani, Nick Welch, Tony Munyonga and Brian Bennett.

Is this a sign of desperation for results?

“I beg to differ,” replied renowned development coach Stephen Mangongo.

“We lost to Uganda, and well lost to Namibia (in T20 World Cup qualifiers), with our full national side. So we got to buckle down and work ten-fold to get to the levels desired by a Test nation. We can’t kid ourselves that we are above Uganda until we put them in their place in T20.”

Mangongo will be in Accra as technical advisor of Zimbabwe’s men cricket team, coached by former national team captain Elton Chigumbura.

“However,” added Mangongo. “We are also cognizant of the building phase which ZC has undertaken by establishing the Under-25 project. Therefore in the squad to the African Games the majority are Under-25 members. We will be assessing their preparedness to leapfrog to international cricket.”

The other major team on the Zimbabwe delegation, rugby Sevens, is also not risking it. They have gone with an even stronger international flavour following a horrific chapter in recent years in which the once dangerous underdogs of the world sevens circuit have continued their steady decline. Lifeless and error-ridden performances in September 2022 at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town and then at Africa’s Olympics qualification competition in Harare a year later make you forget the last time any Zimbabwean senior national team played some good quality rugby.

Now, when you thought the African Games was the perfect platform to hit the reset button, those in control aren’t seeing things that way for now.

Here comes again 31-year-old Hilton Mudariki, the experienced captain of Zimbabwe in the premier version of the game, who is back to lead in the shorter format.

For entertainment value it’s great, because somebody like Tapiwa Mafura will definitely wow the Accra crowds with his trickery and deceptive, which a showpiece like the African Games need Mafura will be too good when on song. But for a top-class player who has won back-to-back Currie Cup titles in South Africa with two different provinces, he may feel he should have rather been playing somewhere else.

In reaction to the make-up of the Accra-bound side, a member of the outstanding Zimbabwe team that took the plate trophy at the 2009 World Cup Sevens simply remarked:  “Guys need a win badly.”

Again, they are not the only sport that want is so bad, to try and restore battered pride.

After heavy tennis defeat to Hong Kong early February to be relegated to Africa Group III of the Davis Cup, Zimbabwe is going to Ghana with the ever-presented brothers Benjie and Courtney Lock as well as their one-time non-playing captain, Takanyi Garanganga.

But then again, let’s see. It could be another false sense of reality we are having here and the African Games may humble us if we continue to “kid ourselves” like cricket’s Mangongo puts it.


Athletics: Gerren Muwishi (captain) Ashley Kamangira, Rutendo Nyahora, Ngoni Makusha, Simon Artwell Allington, Wellington Varevi, Bradley Makuvire, Kelvin Chiku, Isaac Mpofu, Busani Ndlovu, Dickson Kamungeremu, Leeford Zuze: Faith Dube (coach), Aaron White (manager).

Cricket Women: Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Sharne Mayers, Josephine Nkomo, Kelis Ndhlovu, Loreen Tshuma, Nyasha Gwanzura, Francisca Chipare, Lindokuhle Mabhera, Modester Mupachikwa, Kudzai Chigora, Pellagia Mujaji: Walter Chawaguta (head coach), Keith Kulinga (batting coach), Trevor Garwe (bowling coach), Caroline Nyamande (manager), Farai Mabasa (physiotherapist).

Cricket Men: Clive Madande (captain), Tadiwanashe Marumani, Brian Bennett, Alex Falao, Tony Munyonga, Nick Welch, Johnathan Campbell, Owen Muzondo, Takudzwa Chataira, Trevor Gwandu, Wallace Mubaiwa, Tashinga Musekiwa, Kudakwashe Macheka, Rodney Mupfudza: Elton Chigumbura (head coach), Njabulo Ncube (bowling coach), Elvis Sembezeya (manager), Travor Vambe (physiotherapist), Stephen Mangongo (technical advisor).

Cycling: Skye Davidson (captain), Stacey Hyslop, Rodreck Shumba: Elton Muchemwa (coach), Albert Kirevha (mechanic).

Chess: Linda Shaba (captain), Jemusse Zhemba: James Vhezha (coach).

Judo: Majaji Musariri (captain), Christie-Rose Pretorius: Simbarashe Mashayu (manager).

Karate: Tanyaradzwa Ziwira (captain), Tapiwa Nyikadzino: Winston Nyanhete (manager).

Rugby, Sevens: Hilton Mudariki, Tapiwa Malenga (co-captains), Vuyani Dhlomo, Tapiwa Mafura, Godfrey Magaramombe, Kudakwashe Nyamakura, Tatenda Matoramusha, Ryan Musumhi, Edward Sigauke, Carlos Matematema, Nigel Tinarwo, Dion Khumalo, Trevor Gurwe, Munyaradzi Ngandu, Shadreck Mandaza: Ricky Chirengende (coach), Tafadzwa Mhende (manager).

Tennis: Benjamin Lock, Rufaro Magarira (co-captains), Courtney Lock, Benedict Badza, Takanyi Garanganga, Sasha Chimedza, Tadiwanashe Mauchi, Tanyaradzwa Midzi: Ellen Chifamba (manager).

Triathlon: Andie Kuipers (captain), Loma Doorman, Rohnan Nicholson, Callum Smit – Pam Fulton, Martin Mbofana (co-coaches).