Young Warriors Skipper Upbeat

YOUNG Warriors skipper, Marshall Pini, is excited to be handed the responsibility to lead Zimbabwe at the COSAFA Under-20 Championships which get underway on Thursday in Port Elizabeth.

Zimbabwe meet South Africa on Thursday, in the opening match of the tournament, which will run up to December 13.

After missing last year’s edition, the Chicken Inn forward is bullish his team will do well in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Pini joined the Bulawayo side this year from Total Harare Academy.

But, before he could make his Premiership debut, football was forced into lockdown.

“I am excited about the responsibility and I feel everyone is ready for the tournament and we can push all the way,” said Pini.

“We will give it our maximum efforts and all the energy. We will try our best to reach the semi-final and, maybe, win the trophy.

“It is my first time to represent the country and it is also the same for most of the boys, so everyone is excited and morale is high.”

He feels a ticket to next year’s Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations will provide the motivation for the team to try even harder.

The Young Warriors will also meet Mozambique before they complete their group assignments with a match against Lesotho.

The group winner progress to the last four.

Zimbabwe meet Amajita on Thursday, in the opening match, barely a week after the South Africa Under-17 side lifted the COSAFA Cup at the Nelson Mandela Bay.

The hosts beat Zambia 4-2 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw in the decider.

Both teams have qualified for next year’s AFCON Under-17 championships in Morocco.

South Africa are Zimbabwe’s bogey side but head coach, Tonderayi Ndiraya, says they will not read much into history.

“We are looking forward to the opening match. South Africa have been a difficult side for us, over the years, in all age groups, even at senior level,” Ndiraya said.

“But, we want to try our best, this time around, it should be an exciting match, an opening match, we should give everyone some exciting moments.

“We are going there with confidence and, hopefully, we will get the results.”

The coach had to draft Debeller Mapuwa to replace injured former Under-17 skipper Tinotenda Benza.

Zimbabwe squad:

Goalkeepers: Tendai Chirara (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Matripples Muleya (Bulawayo Chiefs)

Defenders: Tinotenda Muringai (Dynamos), Kelvin Mangiza (FC Platinum), Munashe Garananga (Ubuntu, South Africa), Malvern Hativagoni, Munashe Katondo (Ngezi Platinum Stars)

Midfielders Sebastian Summerfield (Gateshead FC, England), Lexington Mujokoro (FMSA Umguza),Bernard Matsikidze (Highlands Park, South Africa), Brandon Nyagurungo (Caya Foot Academy, Senegal), Oscar Magejo (Academy Twenty 63), Takunda Mkunga, Bill Antonio (Prince Edward Academy), Panashe Mutimbanyoka (FC Platinum), Tendai Matindife (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Debbellar Mapuwa (Legends Academy).

Strikers: Munashe Pini (Chicken Inn), Tapiwa Mandinyenya (Aces Youth Academy).

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