Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
IT is less than a month before the Mighty Warriors begin their quest for a place at the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers in which they face Tanzania and their coach Shadreck Mlauzi is worried with their lack of preparedness.
Mhlauzi suffered a setback to his plans last month when their proposed camp was called off.
The senior women’s side will travel to Tanzania on the weekend of March 4-6 for the first leg with the return leg after two weeks later.
Mlauzi’s Olympic Games’ bound charges were scheduled to get into camp in January as part of their medium term plans for the Games preparations as well as the Cup of Nations qualifiers.
But the camp was cancelled a day before its commencement with ZIFA citing logistical challenges and it appears to have become the norm whenever the Women’s team’s preparations are about to start.
But a ray of hope for better times ahead filtered through on Monday afternoon after ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and the association’s partner Wicknell Chivayo announced that a sponsorship package had been availed that will breathe life into the Olympic Games squad’s preparations.
Zimbabwe last played a competitive match in October last year against Cameroon during the Olympic Games qualifiers and with the women’s league on a break the technical team led by Mlauzi now face a mammoth task to ensure the team is in good shape when they take on Tanzania next month.
They also have to focus on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Although it might appear as if there is still time until August it is the high-level quality of opposition which the Mighty Warriors will face at the global sporting showcase which puts into perspective the need for the women’s senior team to be adequately prepared.
Their neighbours and rivals Banyana Banyana of South Africa are not leaving anything to chance and have since last year been holding training camps.
After qualifying for the global showpiece in October, Banyana Banyana have been holding training camps since November showing their level of seriousness ahead of the Games in Rio.
However, for the Mighty Warriors it is the same old story as they are yet to begin preparations.
But with Chiyangwa announcing that a financial package had been secured for them, the Mighty Warriors could soon finally get their preparations underway with part of the camp taking place in Bulawayo.
“The funds have been also secured to have them in camp. We have agreed that they will spend a week in Bulawayo, they come here afterward because there is something that happens in Bulawayo which is test etcetera there are things they need to do in a camp in Bulawayo. So they will spend a week there, then they come here,” said Chiyangwa.
ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela yesterday said they were still having meetings concerning the team’s preparations.
“We are still having meetings about that. We will give you the details tomorrow (today),” said Gwesela.
Mlauzi said they would now have to make adjustments to their programme to suit the available time.
“Of course we would have loved to first follow our programmes of action which clearly specifies how we want to go about our target. With that not having happened one still remains optimistic.
“In football we have a saying which says, ‘one can never have enough time to prepare.’ One can train for a month or for a year but still struggle to have a team operating the way he wants, so at the same time we live with that maxim.
“At the moment we are still waiting for information but I understand the game is on the weekend of 4 to 6 March. We are not sure at the moment (when will get into camp) but when we get into camp we are going to work with the very little time that we will have,” Mlauzi said.
Mlauzi believes with the right attitude the team could go a long way despite the delays to the start of their preparations.
“To a greater extent it’s about understanding the environment and establish a rapport with the players and it works in favour of us also the technical committee. So we have a connection and that connection carries us through.
“I worked with the girls for less than a month and we were able to achieve a lot, so we can still achieve so much because we are an ambitious lot,” said Mlauzi.