Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
MIGHTY Warriors striker Rutendo Makore is brimming with confidence ahead of their COSAFA Women’s Championship opening encounter against Madagascar this afternoon at Barbourfields. The regional tournament gets underway this morning with a Group C match between Namibia and Botswana at 10:30 am. It will be followed by the encounter between Group A’s Zambia and Malawi at 2pm before Zimbabwe clash against Madagascar at 4:30pm in another Group A tie.
The three matches will be at Barbourfields.
Zimbabwe are the favourites when they face Madagascar, who are making their maiden appearance at the regional football show-piece.
The Mighty Warriors have been to all the editions of the regional tournament since the inaugural event in 2002 when they reached the final but lost to South Africa.
They finished fourth in 2006 when they went down to Zambia in the third and fourth place play-off match.
In 2008 they lost to South Africa in the group stages before finally breaking the jinx to win the competition for the first time in 2011 when they hosted the tournament for the second time.
Makore said they are expecting nothing less than a win today.
“We are expecting to win and we are not underrating Madagascar, they are not different from any other team. But with the preparations we had, we played boys in three games so we are ready and we are definitely going to win.
“They have not been competing in the competition and we have been there and in different competitions as well, so we now know each other, our strengths and weaknesses because we have been together for some time now,” Makore said.
The Mighty Warriors have been on the rise, reflected by their qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games, where they battled it out with some of the world’s best such as Germany, Australia and Canada.
Makore was part of the team that competed at the Games in Brazil and believes the exposure and experience from the global show-piece will come in handy during their campaign.
“It gives us an upper hand. We just need to go in there, do our best and utilise our chances. But we do not have to relax because anything can happen in football.
“We should not underrate them because they have not played in major tournaments. We just have to fight as a team and that experience we got will help us, it will come into handy,” Makore said.
Coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda said they are looking forward to their first game of the tournament.
“What we want, we are going in there to attack. The only way to win the match is to attack, that way we will have a good start to the tournament and it will give confidence to the team
“We are good to go and we are looking forward to the first game,” Sibanda said.
Zimbabwe are the title holders from the last tournament held in 2011 in Harare.
Group A: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi.
Group B: Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland.
Group C: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana.
Today: Namibia vs Botswana (10h30), Zambia vs Malawi (14h00), Zimbabwe vs Madagascar (16h30) — all matches at Barbourfields.
Today: Mauritius vs Swaziland (10h30), Kenya vs Mozambique (14h00), South Africa vs Lesotho (16h30) — all matches at Luveve.