Kwinji 15 defends senior players

HARARE – Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda has come to the defence of the team’s senior players following the defeat to Zambia at the weekend.

Zimbabwe lost 1-2 to Shepolopolo in the second leg of the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) qualifier final round at Rufaro Stadium and subsequently missed out on a place to the finals to be held in Ghana later this year.

The Mighty warriors had came into Sunday’s game with a slender 0-1 advantage following the first leg in Lusaka last week.

It got better for Sibanda’s side when Erina Jeke gave the Mighty Warriors a first half lead in the second leg to make it 2-0 on aggregate.

However, the Mighty Warriors’ allowed Shepolopolo to come back as they equalised through Helen Chanda in the 54th before Barbra Banda scored the winning goal three minutes from full time.

Zambia won the tie on away goals rule and denied Zimbabwe a second consecutive appearance at the Awcon finals.

“It’s always good to try and bring in new players but obviously we can’t bring them from nowhere. If maybe we were that nation that has an active and vibrant Under 17 and U20 league then they can gradually come through that system.  We are not active in that respect,” Sibanda said after the match.

“It’s not like they played badly that I would say now a new composition is what is needed. You would want to bring them in gradually into the setup as you can see we have brought in some.

“They played well, they are still playing well and these are the top players in our country. It was just not our day so we cannot try to hammer them and say we want a new crop of players.”

The Mighty Warriors gaffer denied that she has any bad blood with former coach Rosemary Mugadza after a number of players from Harare City Queens were omitted from the squad.

“There’s no friction, the players were there but they did not make it into the final 18. Why would I have friction with any other coach?” Sibanda queried.

“In the last squad, we had players from Harare City, if you did watch Cosafa and why would I have friction this time, what for? This is not how we work as coaches.”

Sibanda said she could not comment much on the team’s lack of proper preparations as it fell outside her purview.

“As a coach, at times if you get into camp you don’t want to start worrying about preparations. The first thing that comes into your mind is ‘with the time that I have what can I do, what can we do as a technical team to make sure that our players are in shape for the game?’,” she said.

“Of course we had four days of preparations before we travelled to Zambia and of course we were playing a team that had been in camp for over a month.

“Obviously, we knew that physically they were going to be far much better than us because as you know if you really follow women football; fine they could be playing in their leagues but they train differently at clubs.

“Some have one day of training, some have three days so it depends but I don’t want to put blame on the preparations. I think the players just lost concentration and we lost the match.”