HONG KONG SEVENS
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Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016

‘This tournament owes us so much’: Zimbabwe determined to go all the way to World Series

Denied at the death by Russia last year, captain Chitokwindo says they are destined for redemption

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 5:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 10:37pm

Zimbabwean winger Tafadzwa Chitokwindo said his team have learned their lesson after suffering two heartbreaking qualifying final defeats in the past 12 months and are ready to “go the whole way”.

At last year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Russia touched down on the last play of the game in the qualifying final to crush the Cheetahs’ dreams of earning core team status.

Then, a little over six months later, the team let slip their lead in the dying moments of the final of the African Olympic qualifier against Kenya and now face a repechage in Monaco in June.

“Everyone is excited,” said Germany-based speedster Chitokwindo, who has taken over the captain’s armband from Jacques Leitao this week in Hong Kong.

“But there’s certainly a feeling that we need to redeem ourselves. We have lost so many finals in the last minute but we have learnt our lesson. The guys are all hyped.”

Zimbabwe are up against hosts Hong Kong, Germany and the Cayman Islands in pool E of this year’s qualifiers, which Chitokwindo described as “the group of death”.

“We expect our toughest game in the pool stage to be against the hosts, who will have the stadium support behind them, but don’t take anything away from Germany, who I know have prepared very well,” said the 25-year-old.

“It’s not going to be easy with teams like [favourites] Japan and Spain involved too, but we’re prepared. This tournament owes us so much.”

The Zimbabweans are free from any injury concerns and will look to use the lightning pace of their back line to full advantage.

“The team is fit and strong and we’re ready to go – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’re ready to go the whole way.

“Winning here and becoming a core team would mean everything to everyone,” Chitokwindo said.