Pangolins pray for a Moscow miracle

Zimbabwe women's sevens rugby team are bracing for the 2013 IRB Sevens Rugby World Cup qualifiers hoping to pull some surprises against such heavyweights as South Africa and Uganda for Africa's ticket to Moscow.

Old Hararians and Pangolins prop, Charity Muchuchuti attached.
Old Hararians and Pangolins prop, Charity Muchuchuti attached.

The Africa qualifiers explode into life in Morocco from September 27-29 with Tunisia, the hosts, Senegal, Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya hoping to earn a passport to the global showdown.

Taking part at such a prestigious continental encounter is a big achievement for the Pangolins who have never competed at that high level in Africa.

But it will be the bigger piece of the cake most of the players will be praying for. Representing Zimbabwe and Africa at the World Cup in Moscow next year will be the biggest achievement for most of the players who include former national basketball players Charity Muchuchuti, Abigail Gondo, Lucia Marisamhuka and Patience Chinhoyi.

"It means a lot for us to be playing at the World Cup, it will be something to talk about for the rest of our lives," said Muchuchuti.

"We will need people's financial and morale support to make it to the big competition. It will be great to show that we can do it."

A total of 16 teams will line up for the global honour in Moscow next June.

Top four sides from the 2009 showdown -Australia, New Zealand, USA and South Africa- together with the host nation, Russia have already earned automatic entry in next year's competition.

South Africa will take part in the Africa's qualifying tournament in Morocco despite having qualified. So, the continent's representative will be the highest finishing team in the tournament other than South Africa.

Muchuchuti, Marisamhuka, Chinhoyi and Gondo took part at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algeria representing Zimbabwe in the women's basketball showpiece.

Their successful switch from shooting in hoops to sprinting for tries has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that once a sportsman always a sportsman.

They have graced the national women's rugby league dominating in Old Hararians colours. The Pangolin players still play basketball during the rugby off-season period.

"It is really fun," Muchuchuti said of the physical nature of rugby. "I actually enjoy the tackles in the game and my teammates and those we play against know it."

The 2013 IRB Sevens Rugby World Cup Africa qualifiers will also see the men's sevens teams taking part with Zimbabwe Cheetahs hoping to grab their own ticket to Moscow.

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