Mighty Warriors go hunting

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The quest for a place in the Caf Africa Womens Championships starts in earnest this afternoon when the Mighty Warriors take on Botswana in the first leg football qualifier at the UB Stadium in Gaborone.
The match kicks off at 4pm.

Going into the match, Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza does not believe her charges are favourites and have any advantage, but that they will have to sweat to get a result.

The general consensus among the local journalists at the Press conference yesterday was that the Mighty Warriors are the favourites to win the match against a rebuilding and a neglected Botswana side, but Mugadza refused to buy that.

We dont believe in that, we are approaching the match with caution. We cannot afford to underrate the opponent.

They have been in camp for a very long time in preparation for this match so we will have to be at our best if we are to beat them. We are here to play and we hope the opponent tomorrow (today) will also do their best so that we can entertain the crowd for the entire 90 minutes, said Mugadza.

The former Mighty Warriors defender yesterday named a strong first eleven, making a single change to the team that humiliated South Africa 3-0 in the Unity Challenge Cup last month.

Sheilla Makoto replaces the injured Nokuthula Ndlovu, who could not travel to Gaborone because of an ankle problem.

Captain Onai Chingawo will once again guard the goalposts and the veteran goalkeeper will be looking to provide inspiration from the back.

Midfielder Talent The General Mandaza will continue as a makeshift rightback ahead Eunice Chibanda, who has been playing in that position all along but it seems the technical team wants to convert her into a midfielder.

Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri will operate on the left side of defence while Danai Bhobho and Patience Mujuru will partner at the heart of defence.

Emmaculate Chipa Msipa will do all the dirty work in midfield while the ever-reliable Merjury Nyaumwe is set to cause havoc going forward.

Tsitsi Figo Mairosi, who seems to the most popular among the Mighty Warriors players with the journalists here, will operate on the right wing with Makoto on the left side of the midfield.

The scoring responsibilities have once again been given to the dependable Rudo Neshamba and Erina Jeke. Chingawo believes the team is strong enough to beat the female Zebras but like her coach, she was quick to warn her teammates against complacency.

We have been playing together for a long time now and we understand each other very well. In these two-legged matches winning away from here is more important and we have to do it tomorrow (today) so that we dont put ourselves under pressure in the return leg.

The temperatures here have been a major concern but we have been here for three days now, I think we have acclimatised to the hot conditions.

In any case, we are used to the heat because we usually train and play at Rufaro where the artificial turf is really hot, so there is nothing unusual about these temperatures, said Chingawo. The Gaborone temperatures averages 38 degrees Celsius.

Botswana coach Gaoletlhoo Ronaldo Nkutlwisang said her team has ambitions to emulate their male counterparts.

The preparations for the match have gone well for us. We managed to cover the tactics and also worked on the players fitness. Morale in camp is also high. The confidence, the determination and the discipline has been good so far and that will help us win the game. We are going to win the match with the help of God, said Ronaldo.

Botswana rely on the speed and trickery of their captain and Zimbabwe-based winger Bonang Bebeto Otlhagile who plays for Bulawayos Women Super League team Inline Academy.

I play in Zimbabwe but I havent seen many of their players playing so there is nothing really much I can say about them. I know my teammates Rudo Neshamba and Nobuhle Majika, they are very good players.

I just hope we will have a good game of football tomorrow, said Bebeto.

The Mighty Warriors team was given a morning rest yesterday and took that time to go for shopping and had a feel of the match venue in the afternoon.

Match officials
Centre referee: Yengo Lemba Destinee (Congo)
1st ass: Monegni Moulongo (Congo)
2nd ass: Ngouono Tsele (Congo)
Fourth Official: Grace Msiska (Malawi)
Match Commissioner: Regina Chimba (Zambia)