Barry Silah @obel_barry
Zimbabwe Cheetahs beat a young Kenya Shujaa side 17-5 in the finals of the Africa Men’s Sevens Cup title yesterday at Jemmal Stadium in Monatsir, Tunisia.
The Shujaa side was left to rue their careless mistakes in their territory when they gave away easy balls. This win meant the South African side took away the title after downing both East African heavyweights in the competition.
The Zims in the finals gave the Shujaa outfit literally no space to manouvre as they diligently closed the spaces.
The 2017 runners-up Zimbabwe took only five minutes to go up with a converted try from Shingirai Katsvere even after Tarisai Mugariri was yellow carded and off the pitch. Kenya responded with an unconverted try at the stroke of half time through a Brian Wahinya after an interchange with Cyprian Kuto for Kenya to head to the break trailing 7-5.
Tafadzwa Chitokwindo had pace in the beginning of second half which rattled the Shujaa defence as he combined well with all action Takudzwa Kumadiro for the Cheetahs second try. Chitokwindo was to add the decisive third try in the dying minutes.
A buoyant Zimbabwe took advantage of the short numbers and announced their return into the game with a try three minutes in.
Paceman Tafadzwa Chitokwindo’s try and one more at the hooter by Shingirai Hlanguyo after a spirited sprint under the sticks and converted, got the game all level. In the lead up to the finals, Kenya knocked out Madagascar 36-5 in the semi-finals.
On Saturday, they had silenced Botswana 49-0 and Morocco 41-0. Earlier defending champions Uganda got stunned in extra time after losing 24-17 to the Cheetahs at the main cup semi-finals.
It was 19-19 in regulation time for both ends even as Zimbabwe took advantage of poor defending to force a tie. In the first half, Uganda was leading 19-0 and looked poised to have a shot at the finals for the second consecutive season.
Michael Okorach scored a try inside 44 seconds and a Philip Wokorach conversion started it all for Uganda before a diving try at the corner and an Ian Munyani try down the centre gave Uganda advantage. The first half saw a total three players ejected for bad play.
The start of the second half saw Uganda’s Aaron Ofoyrwoth handed a second booking leaving the defending champions to play one man less for the rest of the game.