WOMEN football competitions manager Cecilia Gambe believes the Mighty Warriors can qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics if they get adequate support.
BY HENRY MHARA
The senior women football team qualified to the third round of the qualifiers at the weekend after beating Zambia 1-0 in the second round second leg match at Rufaro Stadium to progress on the away goals rule after the first leg had ended 2-1 in Zambia’s favour.
Felistas Muzongondi scored the priceless goal early in the first half in a match in which the away side missed a penalty.
Zimbabwe’s reward for the victory is a two-legged contest against Ivory Coast in the next stage, one of the three teams that will represent Africa at the Fifa Women World Cup which kicks off in Canada next week.
Ivory Coast qualified without kicking a ball after their opponents Tunisia pulled out of the qualifiers.
The winner of the Zimbabwe/Ivory Coast contest to be played on the weekend of July 17-19, will play in the final qualifying round with the winner going through to Rio.
Given such a huge task ahead, Gambe said the Rosemary Mugadza-coached side needs adequate preparations if they are to pass the hurdle.
Gambe has in recent weeks, together with her boss Elizabeth Langa, been running around mobilising resources for the team following the ouster of chairperson Miriam Sibanda.
“The competition is getting tougher and the only way we will prevail is if we prepare well. I am looking at getting the girls in camp in the next two weeks so that they have a full month of preparation,” said Gambe.
“We are also looking at getting a fitness trainer, a psychologist, a technical adviser and also a second assistant to beef up the technical bench. We should be able to organise at least two or three friendly matches for the girls before they play Ivory Coast. We are thinking of engaging teams like South Africa, Botswana or Tanzania because of their proximity and the little resources we have.”
“I’m appealing to the government, the corporate world, politicians, businesspeople and individuals to support the team. This team is not a Zifa baby alone, but it belongs to us all and I am calling everyone for support, be it financially or material things. With adequate support, this team can go far,” added Gambe.
But while the win over Zambia was commendable, some fans say the victory should not be allowed to paper over the cracks in the team.
One staunch Mighty Warriors fan Givemore Makonya said after the match: “The lasting truth is that the team is still far from convincing and improvement is still required especially now that the team will be facing world-class opponents going forward.
“One area that the coach needs to address urgently is to reduce the average age of the players in the squad. The squad is getting too old, and the coach urgently needs to press the refresh button. Players such as Felistas are not getting any younger. Apart from the goal, she didn’t do much in the match. Merjury [Nyaumwe], who used to be our engine room, is no longer the same. The same can be said about Nobuhle Majika and Talent Mandaza. Mugadza should inject new blood, young players and pace in the team, otherwise everything else is okay” added Makonya.