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Young Warriors take on Zebras

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THE Young Warriors play the Botswana senior side in an international friendly match this afternoon at the National Stadium in Gaborone as preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics football qualifiers start to take shape.

HENRY MHARA
SPORTS REPORTER

The match, which is scheduled to kick-off at 1500hrs, is part of Botswana’s Independence Day celebrations.

Botswana today celebrates 48 years of the independence with the game forming a major part of the festivities.

While Botswana are using the match to celebrate their independence and the remaining qualifying matches for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Zimbabwe are out of the race and have since turned their focus in qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

The Young Warriors squad, without head coach Kalisto Pasuwa, who is in Egypt for a Fifa course, flew into Gaborone on Sunday evening ahead of the match.

Assistant coach Saul Chaminuka, who followed the team by road on Sunday evening, connecting from Bulawayo where he had led his ZPC Kariba side to a stunning 3-1 win over Highlanders, joined the rest of the team yesterday morning.

He is assisted for this match by Hwange coach Nation Dube, who missed his side’s 0-0 draw against Bantu Rovers yesterday.

The team had two training sessions including one at the match venue yesterday afternoon. The Young Warriors first eleven for the match was announced soon after the afternoon training session with eight of the players who played at last year’s Cosafa Under-20 making it into the team.

Caps United leftback Ronald Pfumbidzai have been handed the armband and will lead the team from the back.

Other experienced players in the squad include How Mine goalkeeper Benard Donovan, Dynamos defender Blessing Moyo, Buffaloes’ Liberty Chakoroma, Highlanders duo of Gabriel Nyoni and Knox Mtizwa, while the FC Platinum pair of Wisdom Mutasa and Walter Musona is expected to provide the bite upfront.

Dube said he expects his team to do well despite the fact that they are playing a senior Botswana team.

“Most of the players in the team play in the Castle Lager Premier League so I want to believe we have the same quality as our opponents. We have almost the same squad that participated in the Under-20 Cosafa Cup so there should be no major problems in terms of the players gelling. We expect a good performance from the players because they are eager to impress us. After the senior team was disbanded, these guys know that they are the future which should be a big motivation for them as they go into the match,” said Dube.

The friendly match is part of preparations for the 2015 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) U-23 African Championship which will culminate in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Only locally based players were selected for this assignment although the coaches said they would also want to have a look at other eligible foreign based players in future assignments.

Zimbabwe is part of the 12 teams who will go through the first round qualifiers of the 2015 DRC U-23 African Championships where they would face Swaziland.

If they manage to progress to the next stage, they will face neighbours South Africa before the third and final qualifying round.

Third round winners proceed with hosts DRC to the December 5-19, 2015 finals, from where the top three finishers will head to Brazil.

The qualifiers begin in April next year.

After the Botswana game, the Young Warriors are scheduled to play Tanzania and Morocco on October 8 and November 16 respectively.

For the Tanzania and Morocco matches, the technical team have said would want to have all the eligible players including the foreign based players particularly those stationed in Europe.

Some of the notable players based outside the country who are still eligible for the qualifiers include Mamelodi Sundowns’ Kuda Mahachi, Marvellous Nakamba (Netherlands), Archford Gutu (Sweden), and teenage sensation Macauley Bonne of English League One side Colchester United, who has already availed himself for the Young Warriors among a host of others scattered around the globe.

Young Warriors Starting XI
Goalkeeper: B Donovan
Defenders: B Moyo, R Pfumbidzai (captain), L Chakoroma, K Moyo
Midfielders: N Masuku, K Mtizwa, R Ruvhere, W Mutasa
Strikers: G Nyoni, W Musona

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