Kwinji 15 Optimistic

Mighty Warriors coach, Sithetheliwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda, says she will focus on the positives rather than the little time they have to adequately prepare ahead of the COSAFA Championships next week.

The regional tournament gets underway on Tuesday in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The Under-17 women’s tournament will get underway two days later at the same facility.

Both the Zimbabwe senior national women’s team, and the Young Mighty Warriors, have been in camp since last Thursday.

“We are worried about the fitness levels, but the players are showing signs of improvement.

“We have been integrating everything, working on their state of mind as well as the physical state.

“We have fused the squad with the U-20 players, hopefully, the younger ones will bring in a lot of needed energy into the team.

“Football activities were banned, and it is not only us in that position. So, we need to remain positive and we will have to manage the energy levels,” she said.

Although the team is training twice a day, at the ZIFA Village, the coach said they cannot afford to overload the players.

“We started our preparations late, but we cannot afford to overload them as well,” she said.

“We cannot lose them through injuries, so we have to strike a balance and manage the process.”

The Mighty Warriors will begin their campaign next Wednesday, with an encounter against East Africans and guests Tanzania, at Wolfson Stadium.

Five days later, they will take on neighbours Botswana at Gelvandale Stadium.

The guests, from the CECAFA region are a very competitive team, when it comes to the southern region tournament.

Last year, the Twiga Stars Under-17 team won the COSAFA title at Nelson Mandela Bay at the tournament which ran concurrently with that of the senior teams.

But Sibanda says they were not reading much into their opponents.

“We are not going to put ourselves under pressure. We know the teams we are playing have had better preparations than us, but we don’t want to concentrate on that.

“Our focus is to give game time to the Under-20 team, which has a World Cup qualifier coming up.

“That is our first priority.

“But, we will go out there to do our best. We expect to do well,” Sibanda said.

The Mighty Warriors finished third at last year’s tournament.

Zimbabwe have won the regional tournament once, when they beat South Africa 1-0 at Rufaro in 2011.

“Last year was a good outing, we won bronze. So, at the end of the day, we are competing against our last performance.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Sibanda.

Champions Banyana Banyana, who are in Group A, will play Angola on the opening day in an afternoon kick-off.

Eswatini and Comoros, also in Group A will clash earlier.

Top teams from each of the three groups will proceed to the semi-finals which will be played from November 12.

The Young Mighty Warriors, making their debut at the COSAFA Championships, meet the hosts South Africa next Friday.

Head coach, Annie Konje and her troops, will have to dig deeper against the Amajita.

The Young Mighty Warriors will then take on Comoros on November 8, and Tanzania two days later.

They complete their round robin matches with a clash against Zambia on November 12.

The Under-17 side, struggled in the World Cup qualifier early this year, losing 7-0 on aggregate to Botswana.

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