WITH less than a month before the start of the Cosafa Women Championships, the Mighty Warriors are yet to begin preparations for the defence of their title.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe are one of the 12 nations that will participate in the expanded regional football tournament, which the country will host from September 13 to 24 in Bulawayo.
While other nations have launched their preparations for the tournament, the Mighty Warriors are yet to select a training squad for the tournament, let alone begin camp.
Zifa chief executive officer, Joseph Mamutse was not sure yesterday when the team would start their preparations.
When asked on when they were planning to get the girls into camp, Mamutse said: “I’m not sure, but it is very soon. What I can assure you is that they would have ample camping. The tournament is in September, so we are not far off.”
The last time that the Mighty Warriors squad was together was last November, when they played at the African Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Cameroon, where they fared badly due to inadequate preparations.
They had also played at the Rio Olympics just months earlier, where they were also brutally exposed for their lack of preparations.
Participants at this year’s tournament are using it to prepare for the 2018 Awcon qualifiers, which start in February next year.
The finals will be staged in Ghana in November. The Afwcon tournament serves as a qualifier to the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
The draw for the Cosafa pool stages will be done later this month.
Zimbabwe will be defending the title they won the last time the tournament was played in 2011, when they hosted it. They defeated South Africa’s Banyana Banyana 1-0 in the final.
South Africa have won the tournament more than everyone else, triumphing three times since its inception in 2002, beating Zimbabwe in the finals twice.
The Mighty Warriors and Banyana Banyana, Africa’s only two representatives at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, will start as favourites to win the title.
However, Zambia coach, Albert Kachinga, whose team went into camp on Monday, believes they can pull a shocker at the tournament.
“We have just started preparations. I think we have three weeks to prepare the girls for the tournament,” he told Lusaka Times.
“We need to work on a number of things, so that we can bring the girls to the condition that is acceptable to go and play in such a tough tournament. We have got teams like South Africa and Zimbabwe,” he said.
Kachinga said Zambia would came to Zimbabwe with the hope of reaching the final.
“We are looking at nothing less than going as far as the final. We want to go as far as the final. A precedent has been set by the Under-20 boys, who won the Cosafa, Africa and qualified for the World Cup,” he said.
Cosafa countries that will battle for honours are Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and hosts Zimbabwe.
They will be joined by guest nation, Kenya.