Saturday July 9 2011, will forever be remembered as the day when the national women football team, the Mighty Warriors, reached the peak of their individual and collective achievement.
The culmination of a journey which started just last year with the ushering in of one Mavis Gumbo as the head of women football in the country, with an extinct national team then, was completed by holding aloft regional women football’s most coveted prize, the trophy for the Cosafa Women Championships.
After waiting for almost a decade without trophy to talk about, the Mighty Warriors made history at Rufaro Stadium when Rufaro “Mafidi” Machingura headed in the only goal of the dream finale to beat the defending champions, South Africa.
Banyana Banyana, ranked as the best team in the region, have been holding on to the trophy since inauguration in 2002.
Mafidi scooped the top goalscorer award after banging in eight goals in the tournament while teammate Onai Chingawo was voted goalkeeper of the tournament.
South African full-back Van Wyk was voted the player of the tournament.
The win confirmed the national women’s team’s new status as an emerging force to reckon with not only in the region, but in the whole continent.
By beating Africa’s third-ranked team, the resurgent Mighty Warriors also fired a warning to other African giants when the continent’s giants converge in Maputo, Mozambique, for the All-Africa Games starting in September.
After making a stunning return to the international stage last year, the national team has been brilliant in every sense of the word.
They have since qualified for the All-Africa Games without losing a match and their fresh Cosafa glory completed a phenomenal resurgent by the “Golden Girls”.
In preparation for the Maputo games, the team has been invited to Germany for a two-week camp later this month.
However, while the celebrations that have engulfed the country following the final whistle on Saturday continue, it should be made clear that the Cosafa Women Championships gave the Mighty Warriors a true picture of what to expect in Mozambique.
“We have won the tournament, but we still have a long way to go if we are going to make a big impact in Mozambique,” Rosemary Mugadza said after the match.
“Tanzania and South Africa are the other teams that have qualified for the All-Africa Games and from their showing at this tournament you can see that it will not be easy for us. We need to continue working hard.”
While the Mighty Warriors were fluent in their passing and their movement off the ball against relatively small teams like Lesotho and Malawi, they struggled a bit when they were examined by Tanzania and South Africa.
The technical team led by Rosemary Mugadza should use the Germany trip to improve on the technical ability and physical fitness of the girls.