ZIMBABWE’S Under-21 junior handball team coach Cephas Mushati believes with functional leagues in place, the country is not far from their counterparts in the region after they came fourth at the International Handball Federation Zone VI Challenge Trophy in Lusaka, Zambia.
The regional competition catering for juniors and the 18-and-Under youth teams featured eight countries including Madagascar and Seychelles from Zone VII.
The other countries were Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa.
Zimbabwe had pulled through to the semi-finals in both sections but lost to Zambia with the juniors going down 16-32 while the youth team were beaten 32-26
They then clashed with South Africa in the third and fourth play-offs where the juniors lost 33-37 while the youth side won 41-15. Mushati said lack of game-time for most of the players affected the team since they could not last the distance in some of their matches.
“The games went well and the guys played very well. Our team lacked fitness. They were failing to sustain the full match and we need to work on team conditioning in future.
“The teams we played we matched them in terms of technical and tactical skills but endurance and speed were our major setback. We played teams from Zone VII also and I think their standard of handball is a bit high than us.
“But I am happy that in terms of skills we matched them. We are not far away from them,” said Mushati.
The Under-21 coach urged the Zimbabwe Handball Federation to come up with junior and senior leagues to keep the players active and create a broad selection base.
“I think our mother-body — ZHF — has to push for senior and junior local leagues so that we have a big selection base where we will get conditioned players.”