Ellina Mhlanga in ZVISHAVANE
THE Copa Coca-Cola Under-15 boys and girls football tournament finals get underway this morning at various venues in Zvishavane, with defending champions Rusununguko and Chidyamakono out to retain their titles.
The tournament, which has become a permanent feature on the Nash calendar, runs until tomorrow.
The group matches starting this morning will be at Mandava, Maglas, Gresham, Shabanie Primary and McAdam with 12 boys and an equal number of girls teams competing.
The finals for both boys and girls will be at Mandava tomorrow.
Rusununguko, from Mashonaland East, are the reigning champions in the boys section and Masvingo’s Chidyamakono are the girls defending champions.
Chidyamakono will be out to stretch their dominance in the tournament having won the title for five consecutive years.
And coach Yeukai Chiruvu is cautious ahead of the tourney as they take on Gweshe from Mashonaland Central and Mwami from Mashonaland West in Group C.
“Thorough preparations have been done and morale is high. If we are the best team we will win again, that is if we are better prepared,” said Chiruvu.
Rusununguko have an uphill task as they take on Pamushana, the 2007 winners from Masvingo, and Pfupajena from Mashonaland West in the boys’ Group D.
Pfupajena lost to Rusununguko in the finals last year in Bindura and the two teams meet again in the group stages this time around in what promises to be an exciting one. The defending champions’ coach Eremu Madzinga said they were determined to write another success story at this year’s edition.
“We are promising fireworks. We are prepared for everything although we are in a tough group considering that Masvingo are a powerhouse and for the past two years Mashonaland West have been producing teams that have been reaching the finals.
“We have a tough hurdle to clear.
“We have been talking to the players that we won it last year, let’s just remain focused and we will make the grade and bring the Cup back home.
“We are in the Group of Death but once we advance to the quarter-finals we are home and dry,” said Madzinga.
Former girls champions Vainona, who were set to represent Harare province, will be missing in action after they were booted out for using an ineligible player.
They will be replaced by Seke 1 High, whom they beat at the provincial finals.
National head in charge of Nash football, Albert Mucheka, said they will not tolerate any form of cheating from the participating teams as this spoils their brand.
“Vainona were said to have used an over-aged player, so an investigations were carried out. We respect the verdict by the provincial disciplinary committee.
Group A: Mandava, Prince Edward, Mutare Boys High.
Group B: Mpopoma, Guinea Fowl, Somvubu.
Group C: Kanyemba, Mtshabezi, Waddilove.
Group D: Pamushana, Rusununguko, Pfupajena.
Group A: Nyamauru, Thekwane, Zvishavane.
Group B: Chenhuta, Simbo, Chamakanda.
Group C: Chidyamakono, Gweshe, Mwami.
Group D: Seke 1, Birivenge, Mpopoma.