By Ellina Mhlanga
Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda says they have to go a gear up as they begin their build-up for the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers starting early next month.
Sibanda named a 31-member provisional squad ahead of their first leg encounter against Namibia on April 5 in Windhoek.
The return leg will be played three days later at Rufaro.
Sibanda retained the core of the team, which won silver at the COSAFA Women’s championship last September and recalled Mavis Chirandu, Emmaculate Msipa and Felistas Muzongondi who did not take part in the regional tournament.
The local-based players were expected to report for camp yesterday at the ZIFA Village while Rutendo Makore, who is now playing for Sporting de Huelva in Spain, will join the rest of the team later.
She was on target for her club over the weekend as she scored for her side to settle for a 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona in Spanish’s Primera Division Femenina.
The Mighty Warriors have not been active since the COSAFA Championships last September in Bulawayo.
“It’s a different ball game now, different from COSAFA. This is a qualifier, so it’s all about the results, it’s all about getting the points so that we go to the next chapter.
“I also recalled players who were out for the COSAFA Championship.
“But I have retained most of the players who were part of COSAFA just to have that competition, so that at the end of the day we come out with the squad that can get those results.
“It’s not that those (regular) players will automatically get into the team, but at the end of the day it’s about the players in best shape.
“As you can see we are coming from off-season, I am yet to see the level of fitness, some clubs have not started training, and some just started. So, obviously, the level of fitness is zero,” Sibanda said.
The former national team player said the fact they have limited time to work with the squad also contributed on the decision to retain most of the players.
“Basically that’s the reason. Obviously if we had got more time we would have tried some new players, but we have got limited time . . . right now there is not much time to look at different players,” added Sibanda.
Makore was instrumental during the team’s COSAFA Championship campaign, netting 10 goals to help the side finish second after losing to South Africa in the final.
She walked away with the Golden Boot.
Goalkeepers: Chido Dzingirai (Correctional Queens), Manyara Mandara (Mwenezana Queens), Precious Mudyiwa (COSA), Shebba Rauli (Auckland Queens)
Defenders: Nobuhle Majika (Inline Academy), Nobukhosi Ncube (New Orleans), Fortunate Nyoka (Zvishavane Pirates), Sheila Makoto, Edline Mutumbami (all Blue Swallows Queens), Patience Masitara (Correctional Queens), Lynett Mutokuto (Black Rhinos Queens), Sithembile Nyoni (Weerams Queens), Amanda Five (Harare City Queens)
Midfielders: Talent Mandaza, Daisy Kaitano, Emmaculate Msipa, Mavis Chirandu, Felistas Muzongondi (all Black Rhinos Queens) Marjory Nyaumwe (Correctional Queens) Rumbidzai Zhoya (Auckaland Queens), Peacemore Kenende (Inline Academy), Miranda Ncube (Mwenezana Queens), Vimbai Mharadzi (Blue Swallows),
Strikers: Maud Mafuruse (Faith Drive Queens), Susan Nyama (Herentals Queens), Erina Jeke, Berita Kabwe (Correctional Queens), Tafadzwa Tsunguro (ZRP Queens), Leona Musikavanhu (Cyclone Stars) Rutendo Makore (Sporting Club Huelva) Privilege Mupeti (MSU Queens)