Mighty Warriors target knockout stage

HARARE - Mighty Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi says his main priority is to see that his side progresses to the knock-out stages of the Rio Olympic Games next month.

Zimbabwe have been drawn in a very tough Group F which also comprises Canada, Germany and Australia for the tournament which kicks off on August 5.

Maluzi revealed this after meeting Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa and Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane at Bindura University yesterday, where the team has been camping for the past three weeks.

“If we can get at least five players making it to Europe we will be very much happy at the same time qualifying to the next round will be a bonus and would be happy to have that,” Mlauzi said.

“So we are working towards making sure that players go out there and represent themselves well and maybe make it to the teams in Europe and even America because America has got good leagues.

“Enjoying the experience on its own is important because it’s a different level of competition, so we want to enjoy the tournament as much as we can.

“Never rule us out, just like we said ahead of the Cameroon game. We trained three days ahead of that game but we went on to win. So I can say never ever rule us out, we can shock the world.”

With Zifa struggling to secure friendly matches for the team, Mlauzi said they would use their time in camp to fine tune ahead of the tournament.

“We can’t really say we are ready as we are still fine tuning. We are yet to play friendlies. So we can only reveal our correct position when we start playing friendlies,” Mlauzi said.

“At the moment there are still few areas that we are working on in terms of our tactics and fitness. We will play China, I understand that game has already been secured but it’s not really enough.  

“Of course it won’t be enough but we will have to juggle around with our combinations during the course of the tournament which is not good enough especially for tournaments of this magnitude. But what else can we do when resources are not there?”

Meanwhile, the government remains quite on the threat of the Zika virus at a time several leading sportspersons across the world are withdrawing their participation from Rio.

The mosquito-borne virus has been spreading like a veld fire in the Americas since it was first reported in May last year.

With Zimbabwe expected to send more than 25 athletes, mainly women, Hlongwane yesterday failed to respond to questions on whether the government has taken any pre-cautionary measures saying they will issue a statement this week.

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