Raymond Jaravaza/Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporters
IT’S all systems go when the revised 2017 edition of the Cosafa Women’s Championships kicks off today.
Award winning dance group Iyasa are set to perform during the tournament’s official opening ceremony at Barbourfields Stadium.
Twelve countries, including guest nation Kenya, are set to battle it out in the 12-day football showcase that ends on 24 September and will be played at Barbourfields and Luveve Stadiums.
“We did a final inspection of Barbourfields Stadium, which will host the official opening ceremony, and we are satisfied with the level of preparedness.
“The pitch and technical areas, which were part of the major concerns noted by the grounds committee, have been sorted out as part of renovations of the stadium. Local dance group Iyasa will perform during the official opening and we urge the Bulawayo community to come in their numbers,” said local organising committee spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.
Meanwhile, Mighty Warriors’ captain Talent Mandaza believes the support of the local fans will play a huge role when Zimbabwe takes on Madagascar in their group stage opener at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
Three matches are pencilled for Barbourfields Stadium with the first encounter pitting Namibia against Botswana at 10:30AM followed by a tie between Zambia and Malawi at 2PM.
Zimbabwe will face Madagascar in the last match of the day.
“Every game is an important match for us, I do not know much about Madagascar but we are not taking the match lightly.
“The idea is to take each game as it comes. Fans should expect good football from the Mighty Warriors and our goal is to retain the trophy.
“We would like to call on the fans to come in their numbers and support us. The experience we got from the Olympics and the new players that have come in will certainly work in our favour,” said the Mighty Warriors skipper.
Head coach, Sithethelelo “Kwinji 15” Sibanda, said the team was ready to defend the Cosafa title.
“We are ready for tomorrow’s game. We have a clean bill of health in the squad, which is good. Some of the girls picked up minor knocks from the friendly that we played but there is nothing serious to worry about,” said Sibanda.
Madagascar head Coach, Johary Rakotomalala, said his team was not in Zimbabwe for a holiday but to compete.
“The team is ready for the game tomorrow, it is going to be a very good match against a good opposition but we will do our best to get a good result.
“We are not reading much into the fact that this is our first time in this competition, we are here to put a good show,” said Rakotomalala.