Mighty Warriors out to defend Cosafa title

BULAWAYO – Although they might not be a well-resourced national team, the Mighty Warriors continue to do the nation proud after they reached the final of the ongoing Cosafa Women’s Championship.

Zimbabwe booked their place in tomorrow’s final at Barbourfields Stadium with a convincing 4-0 win over Kenya at the same venue during Thursday’s semi-final.

If they win tomorrow’s final against perennial rivals South Africa, it will cap another feather on the team’s achievements in recent years.

The Mighty Warriors made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean national football team to qualify for a global competition when they went to the Rio Olympic Games last year.

Although they were knocked out in the group stages, they earned global admiration as they played with flair and total commitment.

That same year, Zimbabwe also qualified for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon where they also failed to progress from the group stages.

Since that failed campaign in Cameroon in December 2016, the Mighty Warriors had not played a competitive match or a friendly international.

But 10 months later, under new coach Sithethelewe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda, who replaced Shadreck Mlauzi, the team regrouped.

A few weeks later, they are now in the final of a regional competition and just 90 minutes away from adding a second Cosafa title.

Zimbabwe ended South Africa’s dominance in the competition when they beat Banyana Banyana in the final when the competition was last held here in 2011.

In another repeat of that 2011 final, Sibanda’s side will have to be at their best to beat a South African side that has been solid throughout the tournament.

Sibanda is confident they can repeat the feat and defend their title tomorrow if they stick to their game plan.

“If only we stick to our game plan; if only we stick to our philosophy; if only we stick to our type of play then we can be able to overcome our opponents,” a bubbly Sibanda told the Daily News yesterday.

“We just have to stick to our type of play and not to follow the other team’s play. We don’t have that strength of the physical play.”

Although Banyana enjoy the better head-to-head advantage over the two teams, Sibanda is unfazed by facing a side that has won a record three Cosafa Women’s Championship titles on the trot.

“We just have to have a good tactical approach in terms of the game,” she said.

“History doesn’t count, history is gone and these are new players who are in the team.

“It’s another game on a different stage and we still need to work hard on the field of play.”

With striker Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore in red-hot form, Mighty Warriors captain Talent Mandaza is confident they can prevail tomorrow.

Makore scored the first goal in the semi-final win over Kenya which took her tally for the tournament to nine goals.

“Morale is high in camp; everyone is happy and looking forward to the Cosafa final. We are just happy,” Mandaza told the Daily News.

“Obviously the final is going to be a tough game but we know what to expect from them. We have played each other many times and we know what they are capable of. It’s definitely going to be an exciting final.”

The Black Rhinos Queens midfielder was full of praise to the Bulawayo fans for the way they have backed the team since the group stages and urged them to come out in their numbers tomorrow.

“The supporters have been amazing so far, in fact terrific, supporting us till the matches finish in the previous games,” Mandaza said.

“So I hope they won’t give up on us on the final day. I hope they will continue supporting us as we look to finish Banyana Banyana on Sunday(tomorrow).”

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