SENIOR national women football team assistant coach Johannes Chikaola believes victory over their Lesotho counterparts in the traditional Unity Cup match set for Rufaro Stadium this afternoon would certainly boost the Mighty Warriors’ confidence ahead of the 2014 African Women Championship qualifiers.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA
Kick-off is at 1500hrs and the match is free of charge.
The two teams met twice over a month ago in Maseru, with the Zimbabwe ladies raking in a total of 11 goals against just two.
In the eyes of many, Lesotho proved weak opponents. They are not exactly ideal opposition that can really test the Mighty Warriors’ potency ahead of the African Women Championships first round qualifying match against Botswana in two months’ time.
But for Chikaola, the match is an occasion to see how the players adapt to the tactics and philosophy of the coach, more than anything else.
“For us, this is not a friendly, but an encounter where we have to fight hard to try and obtain a positive result,” Chikaola said.
“It is not always about finding the toughest opponent around because you might not get the desired effect at the end. A win will boost the confidence of the team and this is always important when preparing for important matches ahead.
“Of course, we would want to continuously play other powerhouses like South Africa and Nigeria, but we also have to look at other issues. We want to instil a winning mentality in the team and that is very important. We want to see how the team responds to the tactical and technical aspects that we have been teaching them.
“I believe we have a very strong team which can face any team in Africa, but it’s the confidence that lacks sometimes. We need the players to have that mentality, and after that I am sure they will be ready to face any opposition,” Chikaola added.
Chikaola said he expected a better Lesotho side than the one they faced in Maseru, but he said his team was well prepared.
“We understand that they did not break camp since the time we played them and we also hear they have brought some of their senior players whom they did not use the last time. Obviously, they are better prepared now, but we are also ready. The team is looking sharp and I am confident we will win the match.”
Lesotho arrived in the country on Thursday.
Mighty Warriors strikers Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore and Rudo “Beauty Queen” Neshamba return to the starting line-up after missing the Maseru trip. Makore is returning from an injury while the Beauty Queen was writing exams.
“They are some of our experienced players in the team and we are pretty excited that they are back in the team. We are building a team for the future and we would want to have all the players available. That is the other reason why we have made it a point that whenever we call the team for camp, we include at least five players who are under the age of 20. We have Nyasha Munemo, Greater Bande, Tafadzwa Mushonagwenzi, Mavis Chirandu and Tafadzwa Tsunguro in camp right now. We believe they are ready for the national team. We will always make sure that they get game time,” Chikaola said.
Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters liaison officer Simeone Jamanda encouraged Zimbabweans from all walks of life to come with their families and enjoy the game on this important day.
“This match will be free of charge. We want to enable people from all walks of life to come and enjoy the game with their families because this is more than just a game. We want to remember the legacy of the Unity Day signed by our leaders,” Jamanda said.