Mighty Warriors seek positive start

HARARE - Can the Mighty Warriors repeat their 2011 heroism and lift this year’s edition of the Cosafa Women’s Championships which gets underway in Bulawayo today?

Well, that’s the big question coach Sithethelwe Sibanda and her charges will have to answer when they troop into Barbourfields Stadium for their Group A opening match against Madagascar.

Kick-off time is 4:30pm.

The Mighty Warriors are the defending champions after winning the tournament when it was last played in 2011 and are pooled in Group A alongside neighbours Zambia, Madagascar and Malawi.

And Sibanda, who is presiding in a competitive match for the first time since her appointment to succeed sacked Shadreck Mlauzi in June is not short in confidence and is targeting the trophy.

“Preparations have gone well for us. We had some minor injuries and knocks on players but everything is back to normal and hope we all head into the games without any injuries,” Sibanda said ahead of today’s opener.

“We set ourselves a target of reaching the final. We have been focusing on that in camp and we feel that is an achievable objective.

“Some would view our achievement of making it to the Olympics to mean we are better and when they face us they raise their game which means that we’ve to guard against complacency and fight. We don’t want to be authors of our own downfall.”

The Mighty Warriors will be banking on the experience of striker Rutendo Makore, goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai, defenders Nobuhle Majika, Sheila Makoto, Rufaro Machingura, midfielder Marjory Nyaumwe, Daisy Kaitano as well as Talent Mandaza while there are also some exciting new players in the set-up.

In their Group A, Mighty Warriors are likely to face stern competition from neighbours Zambia whose coach Albert Kachinga has already warned the hosts to expect a tough outing.

Zambia play Malawi in their opening match at 2pm.

“We have played Zimbabwe on several occasions. We have lost and we also won some games. The chances are 50-50, but with adequate preparations and with a good mind-set we can beat them,” Kachinga said.

“These days, there are no easy games; it is a fair draw. There is no team which can underrate the other. We have to work extra hard so that we can pull through. All the teams are good for them to play at the tournament.”

This tournament is the biggest ever field assembled for the Cosafa Women’s Championship as 12 teams set to take part in a true sign of growth for women’s football in the previous years.

The tournament is scheduled to run from today until September 24 and will be staged in Bulawayo at Barbourfields Stadium and Luveve Stadium.

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

Kenya coach Richard Kanyi has blended his team with a mixture of youth and experience and is the second east African side after Tanzania to compete in the regional championship.

“We have had good preparations, and our objective remains reaching the semi-finals of this competition,” Kanyi says.

“Some of the players who are not in the final list were dropped either for technical reasons or private ones that are not to be shared publicly.

“We are, however, left with a good squad and I know we shall perform well in the competition.”

Cosafa Fixtures:

Today (Barbourfields)

Namibia v Botswana (10:30am), Zambia v Malawi (2pm), Zimbabwe v Madagascar (4:30pm)

Tomorrow (Luveve)

Mauritius v Swaziland (10:30am), Kenya v Mozambique (2pm), South Africa v Lesotho (4:30pm)

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