By Munyaradzi Madzokere
The Mighty Warriors need nothing short of a miracle to overturn a five-goal deficit and keep hopes of qualifying for a second consecutive Olympic Games when they take on Zambia in the second leg of the qualifiers at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
Zimbabwe endured a horror second half show at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka on Wednesday in which they let in five goals in a crushing defeat to the neighbours.
But the result was not a surprise considering that the team was ill-prepared after engaging in a fierce pay dispute with Zifa ahead of the crucial first leg tie.
The team only left the country for Lusaka by bus on Monday, less than 48 hours before kick-off, and the outcome was a clear reflection of the shambolic preparations.
“I am not blaming the girls, but our country is the worst enemy for not according the girls enough time to prepare,” Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda said after the defeat.
“We struggled in the second half and Zambia came back stronger because their players have pace and skill on the ball.”
The Mighty Warriors won many hearts at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after they were pitted in a difficult group that included giants Germany, Australia and Canada.
But since the Rio Games, the Zimbabwe women’s soccer team has been on a downward spiral without any meaningful assistance from the football body.
It is difficult to see the Mighty Warriors coming back to steal the tie from Zambia.
The winner of this encounter will go on to meet either South Africa or Botswana in the next round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers.
Meanwhile, the Warriors and the Young Warriors are set to begin camp tomorrow as they prepare for the 2022 World Cup preliminary qualifier against Somalia and the U-23 Afcon qualifier
against South Africa respectively.
The Warriors play Somalia in Djibouti on Thursday, while the Young Warriors face South Africa in Johannesburg on the same day.