Mighty Warriors, Banyana in Unity Day clash

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The Mighty Warriors lock horns with their South African counterpart, Banyana Banyana, in the second edition of the Unity Challenge Cup at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon to close off a year of mixed fortunes for local football.

The match is free of charge. Coaches and captains from both sides yesterday played down the significance of the match, obviously to remove pressure on their teams.

“We are not looking at what happened before. This match will be different altogether,” said Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza.

“As we are preparing for the women championship qualifiers next year, this match will show us if we are ready or not. They beat us last time, but it will not be a repeat of those events.

We want to show the nation that failing in Maputo doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out. We want to account for what happened there,” she added.

Her counterpart Joseph Mkhonza said: “We have chosen to play Zimbabwe because we know they are a very good side which can help us prepare for the Olympics. We are going to be very selective on the teams we are going to play in our preparations.

“Every friendly we are going to play will be like a last game of our lives because we want to be prepared for the games. We are in a mission and this match is our first step towards the Olympic Games. We don’t want to go there to make up the numbers, but to make Africa happy, not just South Africa.”

South Africa captain Amanda Dlamini added: “It’s not about revenge really, but we want to prepare for the Olympics as much as we can. We have been in camp for three weeks with intense training for this match, which shows how important it is for us.

“We are not here to relax, but to do the job. I also want to appreciate the relationship that Zimbabwe and South Africa have in trying to grow women football.”

Mighty Warriors captain Onai Chingawo said: “We will go out there to get a result. They beat us in Mozambique because we were too relaxed after we had beaten them in the Cosafa final.

Also they had sent a weak side to the games so we thought we would just roll past them. We learnt our lesson there and we are promising them a very good fight tomorrow (today).”

Banyana ran away 3-0 winners in the inaugural match last year before they lost 1-0 to Zimbabwe in the Cosafa final. In September, Banyana thumped the Mighty Warriors 4-1 in the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.

South Africa are preparing for the London Olympics while Zimbabwe are gearing up for the African Women Championships qualifiers where they will play Botswana in the first round on January 14.