Shereni's advice for COPA players

CHIVI - Former Zimbabwe international defender Harlington Shereni has urged fledging footballers taking part in this year’s COPA Coca-Cola football tournament not to take their talent for granted.

The 27th edition of the grassroots tournament was launched yesterday at Chidyamakono High School here with Shereni amongst a host of former football stars that graced the event.

The former Dynamos left back won the tournament back in 1989 and 1990 as Hippo Valley High School student, long before he imagined that the sport would one day land him in the sprightly avenues of Europe.

After starring in DeMbare’s run to the 1998 African Champions League final, Shereni went on to play for SR Delemont in Switzerland before joining FC Istres in the lower leagues of France.

The defender made the step up to France’s top flight, Ligue 1 when he signed for Guingamp in 2004.

He also turned up for FC Nantes and RC Strasbourg before hanging up his boots in 2009. 

“COPA Coca Cola quenched my thirst,” Shereni said. “This tournament put me on the right path. I never thought being born in Chiredzi I would go as far as France. But I never took the opportunity I got for granted.”

Tsholotsho assistant coach Sithethelwe Sibanda encouraged the girl competitors to have a strong character beyond this year's finals which will be held in Bulawayo from July 17 to 19.

“Football is still a male dominated sport; you might be called names but if you are focused on want you want you will persevere,” she said.

Chidyamakono are the defending champions in the Under-17 girls’ section

They retained the title they had won in 2014 after edging St Francis 1-0 in a tightly contested match at Gwanzura Stadium.

The previous year they had dethroned Vainona 2-0 at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare.

Chemhanza are the boys' Under-16 defending champions following their strong run in last year's finals in Harare.

Boys’ draw

Group A: Mashonaland Central winners, Bulawayo, Manicaland

Group B: Harare, Chemhanza, Mashonaland West

Group C: Masvingo, Midlands, Gifford (hosts)

Group D: Matebeleland North, Mashonaland South, Masholand East

Girls’ draw

Group A: Mashonaland East, Mashonaland South, Chidyamakono

Group B: Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Harare

Group C: Midlands, Montrose, Matabeleland North

Group D: Mashonaland Central, Bulawayo, Manicaland

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