HARARE - Eighthman Norman Mukondiwa is happy to be ending his two-year exile from the Sables when he lines up against Tunisia in Rugby Afrique 1A Championship match at Prince Edward School today.
The 33-year-old loose forward is making a return to the Sables after he was deemed surplus to requirements by former Zimbabwe rugby coach Brendan Dawson.
Mukondiwa, who plays for Cape Town-based Union Milnerton RFC in the Western Province Super B League, has made the Sables number 8 shirt his own when Zimbabwe beat both Kenya and Uganda home and away to win the Victoria Cup in 2011 as well as the Africa Cup the following year.
He is a certain starter for today’s Africa Cup Group 1A clash against Tunisia after being recalled by new coach Cyprian Mandenge.
“The last two years have seen me enjoy and better understand my game. It’s always encouraging when you win accolades and recognition for you efforts,” he told the Daily News.
“After winning the Africa Cup in 2012, I was Forward of the Year at my club in 2013 and Player of the Year in 2014 and we also won the inaugural Presidents Cup.”
A physical loose forward, who backs up his defensive play with good communication skills, Mukondiwa is in good hands at his Union-Milnerton, who are coached by former Springbok Adi Jacobs.
Meanwhile, Mandenge said Zimbabwe is looking beyond the Tunisian game as they gear up for the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“Every game to us is very important to us. We are not just looking at the Africa Cup but also the World Cup qualifiers. So the Kenya win was a good start for us,” he says.
However, his opposite Tunisia rugby coach Mohammed Sahraoui is singing from a different tune.
Sahraoui believes his troops can shock the Sables and give a measure of relief to the fear created by terror attacks in the North African country.
A lone terrorist last week ran rampage on a Souse beach killing 38 tourists of which many of the deceased were British nationals.
“It’s important for us to play a good game. We have some pressure after the Kenya game. We have had a few days to regroup and now we are playing again,” he said.
“It’s very hard for us but I hope on Saturday (today) all the players can have good concentration and play well.”
Tunisia currently sit bottom of the Group having lost 14-22 against Namibia in first round of play before coming unstuck against Kenya, losing 46-15 to the East African.
Kenya are at the apex of the Africa Cup Division 1A Group with five points from two matches, whilst Namibia and Zimbabwe are joint second with four points from the one match they have played so far.