Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
AFTER seeing their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations dashed at the very last moment, the Mighty Warriors are licking their wounds.
They had been hoping for another dance at the bi-annual competition after they participated in the previous edition in Cameroon two years ago.
But they were beaten by Zambia who struck very late to win on the away goals rule.
The battle ended 2-2 on aggregate.
The Mighty Warriors will not be part of the eight countries that will converge in Ghana later this year and coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda expressed her disappointment.
“It is very disappointing, we always want to use such stages to market our players but if it wasn’t meant to be . . . that’s how it is and there is nothing we can do about it,” said Sibanda.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the end, it’s just one of those tournaments where one country is not there. We still need to just remain active.
“We lost to a better side, especially when it came to fitness levels. Physically, they were above us, they ran the whole 90 minutes.
“We could have conceded more goals if we were not tactically better because they created a lot of chances.”
She said the team could also be helped by the infusion of some new players.
“It always good to try to bring in new players but obviously we cannot bring them from nowhere, probably if we are that nation maybe that has an active Under-20, active Under-17 side then they can gradually come through that system.
“But we are not really active in that one. But it’s not that we played so badly that I would say now a new composition is needed.
“We would want to bring them gradually into the set-up. As you can see we have brought some gradually into the set-up,” said Sibanda.
Forward Erina Jeke, who scored Mighty Warriors’ only goal on Sunday, was disappointed by the defeat but said they need to pick themselves up and move forward.
“It’s disappointing because we were hoping to win but that’s football. We were in camp for a short time but, maybe, if we had been there for a month we would have done better.
“But we still we look forward to other events in the future.
“We were shocked by the defeat because we were expecting to win. But we now have focus on the future,” said Jeke.