ZIMBABWE Sevens rugby coach Danny Hondo says he expects a tough assignment at the Hong Kong Sevens, but is confident his charges will rise to the occasion in the 12-team qualifier where one place will be up for grabs for core status on the HSBC World Sevens Series.
The draw for the Hong Kong Sevens core team qualifier was announced on Monday with Zimbabwe being drawn in Pool G alongside Spain, Tonga and Georgia for the crucial tournament which takes place from March 27 to 29.
Other teams which will be vying for the sole ticket include Hong Kong, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico in Pool E while Pool F will feature Russia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Tunisia.
Hondo, who will be leading the side in his maiden tour as substantive Cheetahs coach said he was confident his players would rise to the occasion this time around having narrowly missed out in the past.
“This is a very important tournament for us because it offers the opportunity to achieve our goal to become a core team on the World Series, something which we have been working very hard to achieve.”
Hondo admitted Spain posed the biggest threat of coming out on top in their group, but warned that they would give equal respect to Tonga and Georgia.
“We just need to focus on winning every game in our group and making sure we don’t underestimate any of the teams that we will face. Every side that will be taking part in Hong Kong has earned their right to be there, so we will not take any team lightly,” he said.
“Spain are probably the toughest challenge in the group. They have been a core team before until only last year, but we have played them on a number of occasions so we know what to expect.
“We have played against Togo before, they are a very good side and we beat them in 2013. We have also played Georgia and we beat them in the Pool stages in Hong Kong last year,” Hondo said.
The Cheetahs preparations for the Hong Kong Sevens recently suffered a blow after Zimbabwe Rugby Union cancelled this year’s edition of the Harare International Sevens tournament due to lack of funding.
Hondo was, however, still confident the three-legged Summer Sevens Series which starts at the weekend would give the players some competitive game time before they leave for Hong Kong.