Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
AFTER writing their own piece of history by qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games, Mighty Warriors assistant coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda is upbeat they will overcome Tanzania when the two teams meet tomorrow in Dar es Salaam for the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier match. The senior women side became the first football team from Zimbabwe to qualify for the Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.
The team was expected to leave for Tanzania early today for the first round encounter pencilled for tomorrow. Speaking at their training session yesterday at ZIFA Village, Sibanda said it is important that they win tomorrow’s encounter as they seek qualification for the Cup of Nations to be held later this year in Cameroon.
“We are expecting a good result because our objective is to make it to the finals of the Africa Women Cup in Cameroon. So it begins with us winning the game against Tanzania, so we are expecting a good result.
“We are going to throw everything out there so that we come out with a good result from Tanzania,” said Sibanda. Sibanda said although they are still working on the physical fitness of the players they are satisfied with the way the girls have adapted considering that they are still on the off-season break.
“I must say they were off-season yes and I must say in terms of the physical quality of course it’s still not yet up there. But they have improved drastically because we tried to work on their strength levels, the general and specific endurance for these two weeks that we were in camp.
“And yes they are not yet fully fit but they are in a better physical condition to compete, I can say good enough. They are also improving on the tactical approach that we are trying to employ,” said Sibanda. The Mighty Warriors assistant, who is also a former national team player, however, said it’s not going to be an easy task against Tanzania as they also have a point to prove.
“The fact that we have qualified for the Olympics and that we qualified playing one of the biggest African nations (Cameroon) means we should make sure we psyche them up so that there is no room for complacency. Nowadays there are no more small teams in football, Tanzania can surprise us and right now everyone knows that Zimbabwe qualified for the Olympics, so we are the team to beat now.
“So it’s going to be a difficult match but we need to psyche up our players so that the qualification to Rio doesn’t get into their minds and they stay focused, no complacency at all,” Sibanda said. Vice captain, Nobuhle Majika, who is one of the senior players in the team said they hope to continue from where they left last year.
“As Mighty Warriors we are prepared especially to qualify for all Games, we qualified for the Olympics and now we want to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. “We want to continue making history as women especially to change the attitude towards women’s football because some girls are denied the opportunity to pursue soccer. But parents need to understand that one can make ends meet through sport.
The return leg will be played on the weekend of March 18 to 20 and the winner between the two countries will face either Zambia or Namibia in the last qualifying round.
Goalkeepers: Lindiwe Magwede, Chido Dzingirai.
Defenders: Nobuhle Majika (vice captain), Sheila Makoto, Eunice Chibanda, Lynett Mutokuto, Daisy Kaitano, Patience Mujuru, Nobukhosi Ncube.
Midfielders: Emmaculate Msipa, Viola Ndlovu, Rejoice Kapfumvuti, Felistas Muzongondi (captain), Marjory Nyaumwe, Mavis Chirandu.
Strikers: Rudo Neshamba, Erina Jeke, Samkelisiwe Zulu.
Officials: Shadreck Mlauzi (coach), Sithethelelwe Sibanda (assistant coach), Yohanne Chikaola (assistant coach), Peter Masibera (goalkeepers coach), Charity Munemo (team manager), Dorothy Masawi (team doctor), Sharon Mashingaidze (physiotherapist), Onai Madamombe (kit manager), Barry Daka (technical advisor).