BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
DESPITE having just a week of preparation before the Cosafa tournament begins, the Mighty Warriors have set themselves a lofty target of going past the group stages at the regional tournament set for Port Elizabeth, South Africa, next week.
The Mighty Warriors had their first training session at Gateway High School yesterday, with the majority of the players called into camp turning up, among them returning striker Rudo Neshamba.
Conspicuous by her absence was top striker Rutendo Makore, who is missing the tournament for personal reasons.
The Sithethelelwe Sibanda-coached side failed to go past the group stages last year after finishing second to Uganda.
“Of course, we want to do our best in the tournament. What we want is to focus on the group stages and move on from there. We want to top our group, then we
can start on the semi-finals and the final,” Sibanda told NewsDay Sport.
Zimbabwe are in Group C, where they will battle against Mozambique, Angola and Eswatini for the right to make the semi-finals.
Hosts and defending champions South Africa are in Group A, alongside Malawi Comoros and Madagascar, while Zambia are favourites in Group B, which includes
Namibia, Mauritius and Botswana.
“Like last year when we had just three days to prepare, I feel time is short for us to make sure that the team is in the best shape going into the tournament.
But we don’t doubt the quality that we have in the team,” she added.
Only group winners and one best placed runner-up will progress to the semi-final stage of the competition.
Sibanda was happy with what she saw on the first day of training. She hailed the return of Neshamba, who was part of the team that represented Zimbabwe at the
Rio Olympic Games.
“Basically, the first day it’s all about assessment (for) injuries, if they are any and on football fitness, technically and tactically. So far, we are happy,
but we want to get up there.
“She is an experienced striker, she is talented and I am sure she will be a good leader to the team. But she still has to prove to the technical team first
that she is back for real,” Sibanda said.
The Cosafa senior women tournament is set to run from July 31 to August 11.
The Under-20 Cosafa women team, to also feature at the inaugural age group event to run concurrently with the senior tournament, also began training yesterday
at the Zifa village.
Zimbabwe was drawn in Group A with hosts South Africa, Namibia and Malawi for the championship slated for August 1 to 11 in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay.