Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER losing four key players to a top South African women’s football club, Zimbabwean champions Black Rhinos Queens are happy that their rebuilding exercise is yielding dividends.
The army side made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean women’s football club to feature in the CAF women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifier last year and finished as the runners-up.
But this season Chauya Chipembere Queens have faced stiff competition in the domestic league. They are currently in second place and trailing pacesetters Herentals by seven points in the 14-team league.
Herentals have 55 points from 19 games while the army side has played 18 matches and have accumulated 48 points. The Students have had a dream season in the Zimbabwe Women’s Football League which has always been dominated by Black Rhinos Queens.
Black Rhinos Queens coach Kuda Matuvi said the departure of some of their key players, including Purity Mugayi, Viola Ndlovu and Diana Nyika, for South Africa’s Sasol Women’s League team Ma-Indies Ladies affected his defence.
However, the army side has a strong junior policy and has managed to promote some Under-20 players into the main team. This has stabilised the ship as the rookies have been combining well with the senior players that include Eunice Chibanda, Patience Mujuru, Talent Mandaza and Rutendo Makore.
“We had to beef up the team with some players from the junior sides. All the junior players are below 20 years and I am happy that the youngsters are now doing well. We are still within reach of the league title,” said Matuvi.
The club also acquired Lincie Mpaya during the transfer season from rivals Harare City Queens and the utility player is proving to be a worthy purchase.
The army side is away to sixth-placed Faith Drive Queens this weekend at Nyamauru grounds in Mutare. Herentals will play their league match on Tuesday against seventh-placed Black Mambas Queens at Mkushi Sports Club.
Correctional Queens, who were humbled 3-1 by Black Rhinos Queens last week at One Commando, host Borrow Jets at Wagadhugu stadium on Saturday.
Third-placed Chapungu Queens have a date against MSU Queens at Manyame Air Base Sports Club on Saturday afternoon. The Gweru side which is fourth from the bottom will be seeking to steer away from the relegation zone. Basement club Scorpion Queens, who have only managed two victories and lost 15 times, will host Conduit Soccer Academy at Pfupajena stadium in Chegutu.
This year’s relegation battle is interesting as some big first-division clubs are angling for a spot in the top-flight league. It is now a CAF requirement for all the men’s teams in the Castle Lager Premiership to have a women’s football team.
A number of PSL clubs including Bulawayo Chiefs, FC Platinum and Highlanders have since formed women’s clubs that are playing in their regional first division.
According to CAF licensing interclub competitions.
Black Rhinos, Ngezi Platinum, Yadah, Herentals and Zimbabwe Correctional and Services teams were among the few teams that already had female sides before the CAF mandatory requirements.
Fixtures: Saturday: Faithdrive Academy v Black Rhinos Queens (Nyamauru ground, 1 pm), Correctional Queens v Borrow Jets (Wagadhugu Stadium, 10am), Chapungu Queens v MSU Queens FC (Manyame Air Base Sports Club, 3pm), Harare City Queens v Yadah Queens FC (Dzivaresekwa Stadium, 11am).
Tuesday: Black Mambas Queens v Herentals Queens (Mkushi Sports Club 11 am),
Scorpion Queens FC v Conduit Soccer Academy (Pfupajena Stadium, 12pm).