Elina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
MIGHTY Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi says the Africa Women Cup of Nations soccer qualifiers they have been playing were a good foundation to their preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The Zimbabwe women’s senior football team makes their debut appearance at the Games in Brazil in August and they will be going into camp early next month.
They have also qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Mlauzi said they will have to utilise the time they have ahead of the global showpiece, building on what they already have.
“We have been in the Africa Women Cup and it fell within the scope of our medium-term plan for the Olympics. So now they have given us an indicator as to how to prepare from now. It laid the foundation.
“We are going into camp during the first week of May for three weeks and we will have some friendly matches. We are targeting to expose the players to match situations and adaptation. We want the players to adapt to the tournament competition because we will play more games in just a few days.
“We are hoping for the first camp in May we can have friendly matches, then June and July as well,” said Mlauzi.
Mlauzi said they would have wanted to start their preparations early but they now have to focus on the time they have in hand.
“We are going to look at fitness being our primary focus. Then the mental side, tactical and analysis of videos on matches. We are planning to conduct a series of sports science sessions.
“We would have wanted to start preparations (last) November, December or January but that did not happen. So we cannot cry over spilt milk. What’s important now is the way forward. We cannot begin to be negative.
“We have not been resting, we have been competing. The most important element is to expose the players to competition. We have been competing but now we need to go a gear up, that’s the phase we are going into,” said Mlauzi.
The Mighty Warriors coach also expressed concerns over some of his injured players such as chief striker Rudo Neshamba.
Neshamba has been struggling with a chronic knee injury and missed the Mighty Warriors’ tie against Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Other injured players include strikers Rutendo Makore, who underwent an ankle surgery, and Rufaro Machingura. Defender Lynett Mutokuto also carries a knee injury as well as Eunice Chibanda.
“As we speak we have concerns over our players with injuries. We cannot abandon them at this point in time. We have to reward them for the sacrifice they have made over the years.
“We have been appealing to well-wishers but we have not found any joy. And we cannot start experimenting now,” said Mlauzi.
ZIFA have engaged Sweden and New Zealand for friendly matches just before the Games begin in Brazil.
Sweden and New Zealand are going to be competing at the same Rio Games in August.