THE Mighty Warriors will today know what they will be up against at the COSAFA Women’s Championships next month as the draw takes place this afternoon in Johannesburg, South Africa. The senior women side’s preparations are underway with the team camped at the ZIFA Village and training at Gateway as they brace up for the tournament scheduled for September 13 to 24 in Bulawayo.
The matches will be played at Barbourfields and Luveve with 12 countries taking part.
And the Mighty Warriors, now under the guidance of Sithethelelwe Sibanda, will know their opponents when the draw is held at the Johannesburg studios of the tournament’s official broadcaster, Kwese Sports.
The 30-member squad has several players from the 2011 side that won the tournament, including Rufaro Machingura, who scored the only goal that powered Zimbabwe to a 1-0 victory over South Africa to lift the trophy. Banyana Banyana had won the tournament three times — in 2002, 2006 and 2008 — and the defeat to Zimbabwe ended their dominance of the regional tournament.
Machingura said it’s good to be part of the squad and after winning their first title in 2011, is hopeful they can repeat the same feat at this year’s edition.
The COSAFA Women’s Championship returns six years after Zimbabwe last played hosts to the tournament.
“The difference from the last tournament we played and the one we are now preparing for is that this time we are the title holders, everyone is coming to fight for the championship, so we have to be in good shape to keep that trophy.
“As a player I am happy to be in the squad. We also have several young players and I believe nowadays football is more about the junior policy.
“And as the seasoned players we just keep encouraging the youngsters and motivating them to give it their best. We have to assist them in terms of building their confidence and they should believe in themselves,” said Machingura.
She believes Zimbabwe’s participation at the 2016 Olympic Games and the Africa Women Cup of Nations is a reflection of the strides the senior women side has made over the years.
“We have qualified for Rio and the Africa Women Cup of Nations and I think we are getting experience on how to approach that big stage by playing in such big tournaments.
“So we should be able to keep the title again this year,” Machingura said.
Other players from the 2011 Class are goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai, defenders Nobuhle Majika, Sheila Makoto, Danai Bhobho and Lynett Mutokuto.
Midfielders Marjory Nyaumwe and Eunice Chibanda and forward Kudakwashe Bhasopo were also part of that team.
There are also new faces as Sibanda looks beyond the COSAFA Championship.
“I think they are just going to grow into the system because we are also not just looking at the current tournament but there should be continuity for the future as far as our national team is concerned.
“Some are coming from the Under-20s, so they need to graduate,” Sibanda said.
The likes of Susan Nyama, Priviledge Mupeti, Edline Mutumbami and Fortunate Nyoka are some of the new faces in the squad. Zimbabwe will be joined by Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia as well as East African guest nation Kenya for the tournament.