Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
MPOPOMA High School will carry Bulawayo province’s hopes at the two-day Under-15 Copa Coca-Cola national finals that kick-off in Zvishavane today.
Vetting will be done today, with group games, quarter-finals and semi-finals being played tomorrow while the final is set for Saturday.
Mpopoma made a clean sweep at the Copa Coca-Cola provincial finals a fortnight ago with their boys and girls’ teams being crowned provincial champions.
The boys’ team, which last took part in the national finals in 2015, are in Group B with Midlands champions Guinea Fowl and Somvubu from Matabeleland North.
Mpopoma’s girls’ team, which lost in the quarter-finals in last year’s national finals in Bindura, are in Group C with Harare’s Vainona and Birivenga of Masvingo.
James Rugwevera, Mpopoma’s sports director, said they are geared for the games.
“A camp has been arranged for the team before they leave for Zvishavane so that we cultivate the component of team spirit. We are ready to go and would like to thank all coaches that helped us during preparations with their ideas, plans as well as taking players through their paces. We hope to do better than the last time when we featured in the national finals,” said Rugwevera.
Among coaches that Mpopoma worked with are veteran Cosmas Zulu, Bulawayo Chiefs’ technical analyst and fitness trainer Thulani Sibanda, Indlovu Iyanyathela’s Clement Chimimba and former national Under-15 gaffer Dumaza Dube.
What could give Mpopoma an edge at the national finals is that most of their players turn out for clubs competing in the Bulawayo Junior League and are active every weekend.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland North will be represented by Simbo in the girls’ category.
Thekwane and debutants Mtshabezi will represent Matabeleland South in girls’ and boys’ category respectively.
Copa Coca-Cola draw
Group A: Mandava (hosts, Midlands), Prince Edward (Harare), Mutare Boys High (Manicaland)
Group B: Mpopoma (Bulawayo), Guinea Fowl (Midlands), Somvubu (Matabeleland North)
Group C: Kanyemba (Mashonaland Central), Mtshabezi (Mtabeleland South), Waddilove (Mashonaland East)
Group D: Pamushana (Masvingo), Rusununguko (defending champions, Mashonaland East), Pfupajena (Mashonaland West)
Group A: (Nyamauru (Manicaland), Thekwane (Matabeleland South), Zishavane (hosts, Midlands)
Group B: Chenhuta (Mashonaland East), Simbo (Matabeleland North), Chamakwanda (Midlands)
Group C: Chidyamakono (defending champions, Masvingo), Gweshe (Mashonaland Central), Mwani (Mashonaland West)
Group D: Vainona (Harare), Birivenga (Masvingo), Mpopoma (Bulawayo). — @ZililoR.