|Maria Mutola ready to tear apart defenders|
|Saturday, 27 August 2011 02:00|
From Robert Mutsauki in Maputo, Mozambique
Mutola, who retired from competitive athletics after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will feature in their women's national soccer team during the Games although this team is not being touted as a medal prospect because it is largely a development side.
Munguambe, who is also the Director-General of the National Institute of Sport in Mozambique, was brimming with confidence on the performance prospects of his athletes in the "medal prospect category" and insisted that the set target of 19 medals is a realistic one. But I questioned the basis of his optimism given that Mozambique has so far won only seven medals (three gold, two silver and two bronze) in six previous editions of the All-Africa Games, starting with their maiden appearance at the 4th edition in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1987.
In fact, the last edition in Algiers four years ago yielded only one precious gold medal from another brilliant 800m specialist, Leonor Piuza.
This lady, who is now in her early 30s, will be going for gold again in Maputo. Add to this the fact that the mercurial Mutola, who at one time was always a sure bet for a gold medal at any level of competition, has since retired from athletics and you have a good basis for stirring a healthy debate on this subject. Munguambe was, however, unmoved and calmly responded: "Apart from the fact that we will be competing at home, we have a very large and well prepared contingent. We formulated a very good preparation plan and implemented it effectively. As a matter of fact, we invested heavily in our preparations."
He further explained the different phases of their preparation which ranged from the setting of challenging but achievable objectives, selecting an initial squad in excess of 450 athletes, scouting for and engaging Mozambican athletes in the diaspora with good sports performances particularly those in America and Europe, securing foreign coaches, organising regular competition against national and club sides mainly in South Africa as well as sending selected individual athletes and teams for intensive training and competition exposure abroad.