Revenge will be uppermost in the minds of the Young Mighty Warriors team when they take on the Falconets of Nigeria in the Fifa U-20 Women World Cup first round, first leg football qualifier at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta on Saturday.
The two teams clashed in the same competition two years ago and the Nigerians ran away 10-0 aggregate winners having walloped the Young Mighty Warriors 6-0 in Harare before finishing them off in Lagos.
However, holding midfielder Emmaculate Msipa, who was part of the Zimbabwe team that year, says a lot has changed in both camps since then. The 19-year-old reckons that women football has improved in Zimbabwe in recent times and believes that the team is now at par with all the other continental powerhouses.
“We were still starting and there was no women football to talk about then. Although we were a talented group, I think we were not experienced enough. I also suspect Nigeria used over-aged players in those two matches. It’s different now because we have a running league and there are also a number of experienced players in the current team. We now know what is expected at this stage of the competition. We are focused and want to make history for ourselves by becoming the first football team to qualify for the World Cup,” said Msipa.
Other players that were in the 2010 squad and have been included in the current team are Elizabeth Chaparangana, Eunice Chibanda, Rudo Neshamba, Rutendo Makore and Tafadzwa Tsunguro. Striker Rufaro Machingura was also part of the group, but she is not eligible for the Saturday match as she is suspended, having accrued a red card in the previous round of the qualifiers. She is expected to return for the second leg.
Msipa said they would go into the match as underdogs, a factor she said her team would use to full advantage.
“They have beaten us (women football national teams) in all age groups before so they will obviously underrate us. We want to surprise them. We want to revenge for all the beatings they have put us through over the years. We will go there to win the match so that we will not have much pressure in the second leg,” added Msipa.
The Mighty Warriors delegation left Harare yesterday morning and had a stop-over in South Africa. The team was expected to connect to the West African nation later in the afternoon.
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They were set to arrive in Lagos at around 2000hrs before a one- hour road trip to the host city.