THE national senior women football team engage their Egyptian counterparts here on Saturday afternoon in an international friendly that will wrap up the two teams’ preparations for next month’s African Women Championships qualifiers.
BY HENRY MHARA IN CAIRO, EGYPT
The Mighty Warriors will take on neighbours Botswana in the first round first leg match in Gaborone on the second week of February while Egypt will travel to Tunisia on the same weekend.
This is the second time Zimbabwe and Egypt are meeting in a space of a week after their Wednesday encounter which ended with the hosts getting a disputed 3-2 win.
Today’s match had been initially cancelled as the Zimbabwe team felt that they were treated unfairly by the Wednesday match day officials who gave star midfielder Merjury Nyaumwe a redcard before awarding Egypt a soft penalty that produced the winner in the dying minutes of the match.
But after a meeting between members of the Zimbabwe delegation and Egypt football association on Thursday, the match was given a green light.
Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza said the team has put behind the Wednesday events and are now focussed on getting a win this afternoon.
“For all the friendly matches we have played so far I think this is the most important of them all,” said Mugadza yesterday.
She explained, “A win will naturally raise the girls’ spirits and morale going into the Botswana match. We have to have that winning mentality so we cannot afford to lose this one. We also made some mistakes in the first match but we worked on those at training and I think the than is almost perfect now. Egypt have improved a lot since the time we met them in 2011 so we are looking forward to a great match.”
The match in 2011 ended 2-all but the Zimbabwe team also complained that the referees were biased after defender Patience Mujuru was shown a red and Egypt awarded a very late penalty that earned them a draw.
“We are satisfied with the preparations and the girls are ready for the qualifiers. Botswana are a good side and I understand they have been in camp since October but we are equally prepared and we should be able to beat them and qualify for the next round,” she added.
Mugadza said she will make two changes to the team that started on Wednesday.
Regular strikers Rudo Neshamba and Rutendo Makore, who were rested for that match, are set to be thrown into the first 11 to replace Erina Jeke and Violet Bepete.
If Zimbabwe beat Botswana, they will meet the winner between Tanzania and Zambia in the second and final round qualifier for a place at the finals set for Namibia in October.
The African Women Championships also serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2015 Canada Women’s World Cup with the top three teams booking their tickets to the finals.
Before this trip to Cairo, the Mighty Warriors had played preparatory matches against Lesotho (thrice) and scored 18 goals and conceding just two, beat Zambia 4-1, walloped both Botswana and Tanzania 5-0 each and drew 1-1 with South Africa.