National senior women football team coach Rosemary Mugadza has warned his male counterpart Norman Mapeza of a big fight when they travel to Egypt for the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier, arguing the playing field in North Africa is far from being level.
Mugadza’s warning comes after she haplessly watched her team “robbed” of a gold medal in the just ended Arab invitational tournament. A dejected Mighty Warriors team flew back from Egypt on Monday evening with a silver medal.
“We were not happy with the way our matches were handled in Egypt. The officiating was really bad. Our matches were only preparatory matches.
I feel for the Warriors who are going there for a more competitive match. If they could rob us in a friendly match, what more in a World Cup qualifier?” said Mugadza.
She added: “The Warriors should not expect to be treated with kid gloves when they go there. The playing field is not level in that part of the world.
They should be mentally prepared when they go there and those preparations should start now. Zifa should arrange friendly matches against teams from North Africa for the Warriors.
Even if referees give deliberate decisions against Zimbabwe, they must get used to that kind of officiating.”
The Warriors have been drawn with Egypt, Guinea and neighbours Mozambique in Group G for the Brazil 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers set for next year.
Zimbabwe will kick-start their campaign on June 1 with a home clash against Guinea before a short trip to Mozambique the following weekend. The qualifiers will then take a long break and will resume in March 2013 with the Mapeza-coached squad travelling to Cairo and then welcoming the Pharaohs in Harare a week later.
A team finishing top of the group will then proceed to the last qualifying round where the last ten teams from all the qualifying groups would be paired to play two-legged matches.
The winners go through to Brazil. The Mighty Warriors lost the battle to win the Arab Cup despite finishing on the same points tally and goal difference with hosts Egypt who were eventually crowned champions.
The two teams had finished the tournament with four points, after they drew 2-2 in their ill-fated match which saw Zimbabwe defender Lynette Mutokuto shown a straight red card in unclear circumstances before Egypt were awarded a questionable last-minute penalty to level the scores.Both teams went on to beat the third team in the tourney — Tunisia — by an identical 1-0 margin.
However, the hosts were crowned champions on the strength of their better disciplinary record, having recorded less yellow and red cards compared to the Mighty Warriors.
Feeling aggrieved by that unorthodox ruling, Zimbabwe asked for a grudge match against Egypt which they won by a convincing 4-0 scoreline.