Stage set for Cosafa

HARARE - The Cosafa Women Championships kicks off in Bulawayo tomorrow as 12 nations are chasing the title with the host country Zimbabwe declaring themselves ready for the region’s biggest women’s football tournament.

Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela, who is also a member of the Local Organising Committee (Loc), yesterday told the Daily News that everything is now set for the tournament to start.

“Preparations are at an advanced stage and teams have already started arriving. Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar, South Africa and Namibia are already in the country and the bulk of the teams are expected to arrive today (yesterday) while others will arrive tomorrow (today),” Gwesela said.

“As Zimbabwe we are pleased to be hosting this tournament and we are actually urging those in Bulawayo and around to come in their numbers and rally behind the girls.

“It’s a history-making tournament as you are aware.

“It’s even bigger than the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with 12 teams taking part. We can’t wait for the tournament to start.”

Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda believes her team is ready to defend the title they won when the competition was last held in 2011.

The tournament will be Sibanda’s first competitive assignment since she replaced Shadreck Mlauzi in June.

Zimbabwe are in Group A alongside neighbours Zambia, Madagascar and Malawi.

The Mighty Warriors get their campaign off the mark with a clash against Madagascar at Barbourfields Stadium at 4:30pm tomorrow.

Zimbabwe’s last competitive match was in November last year at the Women Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but Sibanda is satisfied with the preparations.

“Even though I would have wanted friendly matches before the team convened for the final camp, I am happy with the way things have gone so far,” Sibanda said.

“The major boost is that the tournament comes at a period when the players have been playing regularly in the league.

“We expected to be grouped alongside any participating team, thus, we are going to prepare the same way for every team that we are going to face, without necessarily focusing on the name of the opponent.

“We have played Zambia before, with varying degrees of success, but all that is in the past now and this time will be a completely different game. We have to guard against complacency if we are to do well.”

This will be the third time Zimbabwe are playing host to the championships having already done so in 2002 where they finished runners-up to South Africa and 2011 where they won the competition with Banyana Banyana being the runners-up.

The tournament is scheduled to run from today with the final set for the 24th of this month.

Bulawayo’s Barbourfields Stadium and Luveve Stadium will host the matches.

Group B is made up of guest nation Kenya, Mauritius and Mozambique while three-time winners South Africa are in Group C alongside Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.

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