Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE 2018 Under-15 boys and girls Copa Coca-Cola teams were expected to troop into camp yesterday ahead of the inaugural Africa Cup to be staged in Nakuru, Kenya.
Each team is made up of 16 players and they are camping at Prince Edward School where they will have the opportunity to train before they fly out for the Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup starting on Saturday and running until December 16.
The boys’ side will be coached by Bernard Matenga, who led Pamushana to this year’s Copa Coca-Cola championship at the national event while Mpopoma’s Sisasenkosi Mapungwana takes charge of the girls team.
Mpopoma reached the girls finals this year. Zimbabwe will be among 12 countries that will battle at the inaugural Africa Cup.
The other countries are Angola, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and hosts Kenya.
Coca-Cola senior brand manager, Vee Chibanda said they are excited to see the event getting bigger on the continent.
“We are excited to see a bigger edition of the Copa Coca-Cola continental tournament. Last year we had a global camp that featured five-aside teams, but this year we are having full 11-a-side teams.
“What is more exciting is that we are taking the girl-child on board. The girls are making their second appearance after their inaugural appearance last year at the global camp held in Durban, South Africa.
“Copa Coca-Cola has changed the lives of many teenagers and we hope this tournament too will be a life-changing opportunity for the participants,” said Chibanda.
The girls team is scheduled to leave tomorrow and the boys on Saturday.
National Association of Secondary Schools Heads head-in-charge of football, Albert Mucheka, who is also the head of delegation said they are grateful to Coca-Cola for affording the young players some life-changing opportunities.
“As NASH we applaud, appreciate and express our most profound gratitude to Coca-Cola for their continued support and partnership with schools to improve sporting activities in line with the new curriculum.
“We are aware of the economic conditions prevalent in the country at the moment and clearly for a corporate to come up with such a sponsorship is commendable,” said Mucheka.
Zimbabwe are the pioneers of the Copa Coca-Cola football tournament with the inaugural edition held in Bulawayo, in 1989.
Copa Coca-Cola, which is a global youth football tournament that seeks to support the development of grassroots youth talent has since spread to more than 68 nations around the world including Unites States, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Chile.
Mzilikazi were the inaugural winners of the tournament in 1989 and then it was a boy’s tournament only. However, 2011 marked a new chapter in the history of the tournament with the inclusion of girls.
Last year, Coca-Cola sent eight boys and similar number of girls to Durban, South Africa for the Copa Coca-Cola global camp.
Boys: Bradley Archie Kanyangu, Keith Muzengeza, Royce Tanaka Muhone, Emmanuel Richard, Alvin Dube, Trymore Kawerere, Junior Makunike, Elevate Maseko, Tafadzwa Mamboma, Owami Moyo, Munashe Hungwe, Denzel Nduna Chikwanda, Tapiwa Tagarika, Enasio Perezo, Michael Saharo, Nokutenda Mangezi.
Girls: Bethel Kondo, Thando Sibanda, Priscillah Markus, Nomqhele Thwala, Nosipho Dube, Rufaro Maphosa, Ruvimbo Yolanda Nyambo, Laiza Dakacha, Aaliyah Utumbe, Emaculate Zulu, Tendai Museza, Memory Mbira, Tanaka Mbesere, Lindiwe Kholeka Ndlovu, Shantell Simphiwe Siziba, Sharon Dadisai Dangirwa.