Zimbabwe coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba is convinced his team has the potential to cause a stir at next year's Sevens World Cup in San Francisco if they prepare adequately for the tournament.
The Zambezi Cheetahs will make their fifth appearance at the World Cup after securing qualification by reaching the finals of the Africa Cup Sevens tournament in Uganda over the weekend.
Zimbabwe went on to lose 7-10 in the final to the hosts at Kampala's Legends Sports Ground on Sunday after a startling second-half collapse, which saw them relinquish a 7-0 lead. But Nyamutsamba saw enough during the entire event to foresee a competitive outing in San Francisco next year.
"It was a tough tournament, and the climatic conditions were not kind, as it was hot and humid. Regardless, the team put up a good performance and improved with each outing," Nyamutsamba told KweséESPN on his return from Kampala.
"Our thrust going forward is not to go to San Francisco and make up numbers, but to go there and leave an indelible mark at the world stage."
The Zambezi Cheetahs had won three of their four group matches to reach the quarter-finals, with their only loss coming in the clash against Madagascar, who triumphed 19-12.
Nyamutsamba's team accounted for Tunisia 17-12 in the last eight before exacting revenge on Madagascar with a 21-10 victory in the semi-finals.
A former rugby star himself, Nyamutsamba lauded his senior players for their pivotal role in securing qualification, while also singling out youngsters Ngoni Chibuwe and Shingirai Hlanguyo for turning in some eye-catching displays.
Looking ahead, Nyamutsamba said although new players would still be considered ahead of the World Cup, more emphasis would be placed on ensuring that the team is afforded adequate preparations.
"Key also is conditioning of the players. Strength and conditioning is always going to be a factor and it's one thing that I would really want to see us as rugby ... giving attention to," he said.
The Zimbabwe Cheetahs could also do with some decent remuneration, Nyamutsamba emphasised. "The young players sacrifice so much in time and training and I feel if we want to get more out of them we need to have ... match incentives. This will not only show appreciation for the work being done, but in a way it also raises the competitiveness of all rugby players."