Mighty Warriors in tricky Cosafa draw
Innocent Kurira, [email protected]
THE Zimbabwe senior women’s soccer team was drawn in the same group with Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia in the 2023 Cosafa Women’s Championships that will take place in South Africa next month.
The Mighty Warriors supporters feel good selection and preparations could see a side good enough to compete.
Only the top team in each pool automatically qualifies for the semi-finals.
Zimbabwe return to the competition after missing out in 2022 due to their suspension from Fifa, which the Government and Sport and Recreation worked hard to see lifted and that the country returns to international sport.
Football coach Evans Netha feels Zimbabwe’s opponents have improved during the country’s suspension making the group a tough one.
“It’s a tough draw. If you look at Lesotho and Botswana, they are ahead of us in terms of the development of women’s football. We are also coming from suspension and that might work against us. One thing for sure is we have the talent and this should be an opportunity to have youngsters in the team so that we start building for the future,” said Netha.
Women’s football administrator Lee Mangena said: “On paper, it’s an easy draw. Unfortunately, we are starting from zero. These are teams we used to beat back in the day but they have covered the gap. We were on a slide even before the suspension. It will be difficult for us, I think. However, this tournament should be the start of a rebuilding exercise. An Under-20 side would do as we will be preparing for the future.”
Seasoned administrator Sibekiwe Ndlovu also weighed in on the outcome of the draw.
“It’s a fair group. We have been playing our local league which is good. Our players have been active and their fitness level is high. If the selection is proper there is no excuse not to match the other nations because we have been playing,” said Ndlovu.
Hosts South Africa are in Group A and also face a tough assignment as they meet Malawi, Madagascar and Eswatini.
South Africa are record seven-time winners of the competition but have not claimed the title in each of the last two years. Champions Zambia headline Group B and will take on Mozambique, Angola and Comoros as they look to defend their title.
The tournament will be excellent preparation for the second round of qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with several Cosafa teams still involved.
Zambia take on Mali, Namibia face Morocco, Botswana clash with Tanzania and South Africa meet DR Congo in the next round of qualifiers that are set for late October.
South Africa have won seven of the previous 10 Cosafa Women’s Championships played, with Zimbabwe (2011), Tanzania (2021) and Zambia (2022) the other teams to lift the trophy.
Group A: South Africa, Malawi, Madagascar and Eswatini.
Group B: Zambia, Mozambique, Angola and Comoros.
Group C: Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana. — @innocentskizoe