MIGHTY Warriors coach, Sithethelelwe Sibanda has called on her team to improve defensively if they are to beat a red-hot Kenya side, when the two sides meet in the Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final football match at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
BY HENRY MHARA
The match, which kicks off at 3pm, will follow the first semi-final clash between Zambia and South Africa, which starts at 1pm.
Winners of the two matches will meet in Sunday’s final, while the losers will fight for the wooden spoon on Saturday.
Much focus, though, will be on the performance of the hosts and defending champions, Zimbabwe, who are looking for their second title after winning the tournament in 2012, the last time the championship was held.
But standing between them and a place in the finals is a very exciting Kenya side, invited to participate as guests at this year’s tournament.
The East African nation has been the most impressive so far, winning all their three group matches, the only team to do so at this tournament, and have a fearsome strike-force that has scored a staggering 17 goals, and they have conceded just two, as they easily made their way to the knockout stage.
In contrast, Zimbabwe only qualified to the last four as best runners-up from the three groups after finishing second in their group, and with the help of Kenya, who beat Swaziland, a team that could have won the slot had they won the match.
Sibanda was left disappointed by her team’s defensive frailties in their last group match against Malawi, when they blew a three-goal lead to draw 3-3.
She knows that another poor performance at the back against the free-scoring Kenya side would be disastrous to their chances of qualifying to the finals.
“We know what we are up against and we have been working on the areas, which we know we should improve on if we are to get something from this match,” Sibanda said.
“If we are to win, we have to be defensively strong as a team. We left a lot of gaps between defenders when covering against Malawi and that cost us a lot. We can’t afford to make similar mistakes against Kenya.
“They are a very good side. They have been together for quite sometime and are active as well. They are a compact side, and very good technically, but we have prepared well and if we can stick to our game plan, we will have a good
The good news in the Mighty Warriors camp is the expected return to the line-up of star midfielder, Merjury Nyaumwe, who missed the Malawi match due to injury.
Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final fixtures:
Zimbabwe vs Kenya, 3pm
Zambia v South Africa, 1pm