By Ellina Mhlanga
The Mighty Warriors go into the battlefield today when they take on Namibia’s Brave Gladiators in the first leg of the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers first round in Windhoek with coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda emphasising on the need to avoid conceding.
The match gets underway at 6pm at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
Zimbabwe will be counting on their experience after Sibanda retained most of the senior players who have been together for some time now.
Some of the experienced players are Emmaculate Msipa, Mavis Chirandu and Felistas Muzongondi who bounced back into the team after missing the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Bulawayo last September.
Sibanda said they will be fighting for a result that would put them in a good position ahead of the second leg at Rufaro on Sunday.
“First and foremost, we don’t want to concede away from home, that’s the main emphasis, and if we can get an away goal it would put our opponents under pressure.
“So if we can score and not concede that will be good.
“I think it’s good we started away, it releases the pressure, especially with the fact that we have not been active. Starting at home would have put pressure on us considering we have not been playing since (last) September,” said Sibanda.
The Mighty Warriors arrived in Namibia on Tuesday night and were scheduled to have their training session late yesterday ahead of today’s game.
Sibanda said after spending two weeks with her charges at the ZIFA Village, they were raring to go.
“The competition was so great, it was just up there and that made the work rate of each player rise because everyone wants to play for the national team.
“So they have responded so well,” said Sibanda.
However, Zimbabwe should expect some tough competition from their hosts who are also seeking to advance to the next round of the qualifiers.
The tournament is set for Ghana from November 17 to December 1.
While Zimbabwe are looking at making their fifth appearance at the tournament, Namibia’s only participation at the continental football show-piece was in 2014 when they hosted the competition. According to the Namibia Football Association’s official website, one of the Brave Gladiators top players, Zenatha Coleman, who is based in Spain, said they were targeting a win against Zimbabwe.
“We have come a long way and we need to achieve something as a team. In 2014 it was a great experience for us and now we need to push for qualification.
“We have to win on Thursday and then go to Harare with a chance because they will be tough over there with their supporters cheering them on.
“So we need to do our job now,” said Coleman. Both the Mighty Warriors and the Brave Gladiators were at the COSAFA Women’s Championship last September where the Zimbabweans reached the final.
The winning team from the two legged-tie will book a date against either Zambia or Tanzania in the second round.
Zimbabwe Squad: Chido Dzingirai, Manyara Mandara, Nobuhle Majika, Nobukhosi Ncube, Sheila Makoto, Lynett Mutokuto, Edline Mutumbami, Talent Mandaza (captain), Daisy Kaitano, Marjory Nyaumwe, Emmaculate Msipa, Mavis Chirandu, Felistas Muzongondi, Berita Kabwe, Maud Mafuruse, Susan Nyama, Erina Jeke, Vimbai Mharadzi.
Namibia Squad: Agnes Kauzuu, Melisa Matheus, Iina Katuta, Uerikondjera Kasaona (captain), Ester Amukwaya, Stacey Naris, Lorraine Jossop, Emma Naris, Lovisa Mulunga, Annouscka Kordom, Juliana Blou, Millicent Hikuam, Zenatha Coleman, Memory Ngonda, Elmarie Fredericks, Beverly Uueziua, Twelikondjela Amukoto, Vewe Kotjipati, Thomalina Adams, Anna-Marie Shikusho.