Mighty Warriors arrive in Zambia

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THE Mighty Warriors left the country for Zambia early morning yesterday for the decisive African Women Championship (AWC) final round second leg football qualifier, hoping to salvage national pride after their male counterparts’ embarrassing exit from the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers at the hands of Tanzania last Sunday.

HENRY MHARA

Team manager Charity Munemo yesterday said the team who are looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit and qualify for the AWC finals set for Namibia this October, left Harare at 4am by bus.

They were expected in Lusaka just before midday and were set to have a training session in the afternoon ahead of the Sunday match at Nkoloma Stadium.

The team’s departure could mean that the players got part of their allowances that they were promised by Zifa.

The players, who said were owed monies from the previous ACW round against Botswana in February and in the friendly against South Africa and also better living conditions at Zifa Village where they were camped, had threatened not to fulfil the match unless they receive half of what they are owed.

The stand-off between Zifa and the players reached appalling levels on Tuesday afternoon when the latter staged a mini-training boycott pressing for their demands to be met.

Zimbabwe lost the first leg 1-0 and the winner of the Sunday match will join the other six nations plus hosts Namibia for the ACW finals to be staged in October.

However, coach Rosemary Mugadza, who returned to the fold from a compassionate leave after the death of her brother forced her out of the first leg, said the team was capable of turning things around in Lusaka and break a 10-year jinx of no-show at the final tournament.

She believes the win can offer some sort of solace to local football fans following the ouster of their male counterparts from the Afcon qualifiers by the Taifa Stars.

“We played the same Zambia side twice at the end of last year in friendly matches and we scored seven against two. We know we are capable of beating them, what we just need is the right attitude for the game. I’m confident we will win the match and qualify. We just need to get an early goal and I know we can finish them off. The girls need this win to qualify, and so are our supporters after the Warriors defeat,” said Mugadza.

Zambia ladies, the Shepolopolo Queens are flying on the wings of a recent turnaround in women’s football in Zambia, and will now feel that they are close in getting the ticket to AWC finals.

This is the closest the Zambians have come towards their long-cherished dream of rubbing shoulders with the big guns of women’s football on the same stage, a platform their male counterparts, Chipolopolo, are very much familiar with and were even crowned continental champions in 2012.

It is in this line that coach Charles Bwale, is taking no chances for the encounter and despite a 1-0 advantage, he insists there is more to play for in the match.

“We are working on the strike force and defence. We don’t want to allow any goals but add to what we have already. Our focus has not changed; we want to make an appearance at the Namibia Africa Women Championships,” he told the local media.

The ACW finals is the women version of the men’s Africa Cup of Nations and this year’s tournament also serves as a qualifier for the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada next year, with the top three teams in Namibia going through.

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