Nigeria Rugby Sevens national team head coach Bronson Weir says the Black Stallions must improve on their opening performances against Zimbabwe and Madagascar if they hope to remain in contention to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Black Stallions Sevens play Zambia today having lost 24-21 to Zimbabwe in their opening match and followed it up with a 57-7 capitulation against Madagascar at the 2019 Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens at the Bosman Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 14-nation tournament featuring Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Zambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Namibia, Ghana, Botswana, Mauritius, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria serves as qualifiers for the next year’s Olympics in Japan and the World Rugby Sevens Series.
After enjoying a strong start against the defending champions, the Black Stallions Sevens eventually lost some intensity in their play allowing Zimbabwe to gain a foothold and eventually win. Weir says that must change in subsequent games.
“We started well, but we became very sluggish which affected our performance. We have to pick it up for the remaining games. We have Zambia tomorrow and we have a couple of injuries. We also have a lot of things that we need to rectify.”
In other matches played on Friday, Kenya beat Cote d’Ivoire 36-7, Uganda produced a dominant performance to beat Mauritius 57-0 while Madagascar defeated Botswana 38-12 in a battle between two Southern African teams.
Zambia proved too strong for Ghana as they won 19-7, while Tunisia suffered a 26-21 defeat at the hands of Namibia.
The first-round matches concluded after Senegal recorded an impressive 29-17 victory against Morocco.
Tournament favourites Kenya and Zimbabwe were simply unstoppable on the day as they both recorded three wins out of three in order to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Games alive.
On the other hand, Mauritius’ hopes of reaching the global tournament ended as they succumbed to defeats to Ghana and Morocco having started the competition with a loss to Uganda.
While Cote d’Ivoire produced the shock of the day when they defeated a much-fancied Tunisia side 26-5 in an enthralling encounter.
The matches are set to continue on Saturday, November 9, as the best teams compete for a chance to win a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.