By Ellina Mhlanga
As the Young Warriors clash with Zambia tomorrow in the semi-finals of the Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships, ZIFA technical director Wilson Mutekede says the emphasis should be on development and rallied the team to do well.
Zimbabwe became the first country to qualify for the semi-finals last Thursday with a game to spare after beating Botswana 2-1 and Lesotho 4-0 in Group C.
With Zimbabwe having taken control of the group on Wednesday and Angola settling for a draw against Botswana, the Young Warriors became the first team to qualify to the last four.
However, the Young Warriors went down 1-4 to Angola yesterday at Nkana Stadium in Kitwe, Zambia, denting their fine run that had seen them collecting six points in their first two games with a total of six goals.
Going into yesterday’s game against Angola, they had conceded just one goal but all hell broke loose in their final group game against the Angolans yesterday.
Zambia finished top in Group A with seven points to set a date with Zimbabwe tomorrow. The hosts beat Malawi 2-0 in their opening game. They then dismissed DR Congo with the same scoreline and their last game against Mozambique ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Mutekede said it’s a positive step when junior teams do well in such tournaments but there is need to note that the main objective is development.
“I think it’s not a secret that everyone wants to do well and even the whole country wants to see good performances from our developmental side. I think we know very much how last year’s encounter went when the team didn’t do well, there was an outcry.
“I think this time around it’s good that we are seeing some good results. Hopefully, the emphasis is on developing players and if out of that can come players that are going to make it into our senior national team that will be a plus.
“So basically for developmental besides yes winning we want but what is very critical is we want to develop players that are going to make it into our senior national team,” said Mutekede.
The ZIFA technical director said Zambia are the right opponents for Zimbabwe to gauge where they are in terms of development.
“I think Zambia are also a good side and I think the boys have also done well. It’s good that we are meeting Zambia, it’s a very good measurement. I think they present a very good challenge in terms of measuring the levels of development.
“We might want to say, we should have met a lesser tougher opponent for the sake of progressing to the finals, no, I would prefer a situation where we are really tested in terms of the calibre of players that we have, the quality that we have.
“So Zambia deserves that opportunity to then gauge ourselves,” said Mutekede.
Angola went into yesterday’s game needing a victory to enhance their chances of going forward as the best-placed runners up and they just did that with their victory over Zimbabwe. They meet Group B winners and defending champions South Africa in the other semi-final match.
South Africa led Group B with six points after defeating Mauritius and Eswatini. Namibia pulled out of the tournament at the 11th hour.
Source : The Herald