ZTA rescues women’s tourney

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) is on Monday expected to upend its earlier decision to turn down the request by Cosafa to host the 2011 edition of the Cosafa women’s football championships here.

The tournament is expected to kick-off on Saturday July 2 and will run until July 9.

Indian Ocean islanders Reunion were supposed to host this year’s edition pulled out last week due to financial pressures, forcing the organisers to move the tourney to Zimbabwe.

Initially, SRC had turned down the offer citing among other things lack of finances.

The host country pays for accommodation and other logistical expenses for the visiting sides.

However, the cash-strapped SRC was given a lifeline when the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) pledged to provide accommodation to all the participating teams.

Seven countries, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania, have confirmed their participation, with the East African country coming in on a special invitation from Cosafa.

Speaking at the Mighty Warriors’ fundraising dinner at a local hotel on Friday, ZTA executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said his organisation would pay hotel bills for all the participating teams.

The Mighty Warriors’ fundraising team was raising money for the team’s trip to Germany later next month.

“We will host the Cosafa tournament even within the shortest possible time. Even if they had given us a week or just three days to prepare for it we were going to do it, it is still possible,” said Kaseke.

“Cosafa can be hosted even without a government cent. Even if the SRC said they don’t have money, but we can still do it. ZTA will make sure that all the teams who are coming will be catered for in terms of accommodation; leave that to us,” said Kaseke to thunderous applause from the audience.

Kaseke also promised the Mighty Warriors players $400 each to use when they tour Germany as well as negotiating with airlines to give the team air tickets at a discounted price.

“I will talk to SA, Kenya or even AirZim so that our girls get tickets at a reasonable price. I will make sure that the prices are below $1 000, and if they can’t slash to that amount, then ZTA will pay the difference,” added Kaseke.

Meanwhile, the draw for the tournament was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday.

The eight participating teams were split into two groups of four teams each.

Zimbabwe were seeded in Group A and pooled with Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi.

Tournament favourites South Africa, who are also the defending champions, were seeded in Group B where they will face Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania.

Rufaro and Gwanzura stadiums are the two venues that will be used for the tournament.

The Mighty Warriors will play their opening match against Lesotho at Rufaro on July 2 while Banyana Banyana would have started their cup defence with a tricky tie against Zambia earlier on the day at 1pm.

Mozambique will play Malawi at Gwanzura on the same day at 1pm and Tanzania will play their opening fixture against Botswana at the same venue straight afterwards.

Each country will play one another in a round-robin format, with the two sides in each pool advancing to the semi-finals.

The winner in the knockout stages will compete in the final, while the losers will play for bronze in the third-place playoffs.

The semi-finals will be played on July 7 at Rufaro while the third place play-off and the final will be on July 9 at the same venue.

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