Young Warriors put Zifa to shame

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The Zimbabwe Under-23 team cruised into the final qualifying round for the 2011 All-Africa Games football tournament after a 4-1 demolition of the Zebras of Botswana at Rufaro on Sunday despite the usual chaotic build-up to the match.

The Young Warriors progressed 6-3 on aggregate after the first leg in Botswana had ended 2-2 and they will now meet South Africa for a ticket at the 10th All-Africa Games to be held in Mozambique from September 3-18.

A brace by free-scoring striker Simba Sithole and further goals by Jomo Cosmos striker Mathew Rusike and Amidu Abbas made sure that the absence of the suspended duo of Archford Gutu and Denver Mukamba was not felt.

Coach Friday Phiri said the way the team had coped despite the absence of Mukamba and Gutu was testimony to the depth in the team.

“The fact that we managed to win without two key players shows the depth and talent that we have in this team. And hopefully if we maintain that same form against South Africa we will definitely qualify for Mozambique.

“We won the match because of the attacking flair in the team and the balance between the attack and the defence. The midfielders’ supply of clean balls to the strikers was good and I think that’s where we won the match,” said Phiri.

The defence of Lincoln Zvasiya and Knowledge Machona looked steady on and off the ball while the defensive midfield pairing of Timire Mamvura and Devon Chafa allowed Rusike and Joel Ngodzo to cause havoc on the wings.

Abbas’ vision was a marvel to watch and was well complemented by his super strike at the stroke of half-time.

Phiri however acknowledged poor travel arrangements ahead of the first leg was the main reason they were held in Gaborone.

This should serve as a warning to Zifa as such shoddy preparations can prove to be very costly against stronger side like South Africa, who also have massive financial resources at their disposal.

After Sunday’s brilliant performance by the Young Warriors, the country’s football governing mother body Zifa should put resources together for the team ahead of the much tougher assignment against South Africa’s Amaglug-glug.

The vintage performance by the Young Warriors gave local football fans, recently starved of success, something to cheer about after their demolition job.

Remember these were the same fans who had watched the country’s top clubs tumble out of continental competitions and the Warriors stutter in their Africa Cup of Nations qualification bid.
Salvation finally came on Sunday.

The Young Warriors had stood up to be noticed and made a mockery of the chaotic preparations during the run-up to the match.

Zifa turned a blind eye to the youngsters during their preparations and embarrassingly could not even organise mineral water for the team last week during their preparations.

Last week some of the players could be seen fetching the precious liquid in containers after training and, to add insult to injury, there were reports that the soccer governing body was so broke they couldn’t afford the measly $10 a day for the players to cater for transport.

Zifa should treat all national football teams equally whether junior, women’s or the senior national teams and create a sense of national pride in donning the green and gold strip.