Ellina Mhlanga, Senior Sports Reporter
MIGHTY Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda is pleased with the progress they are making ahead of their tie against Botswana in the last qualifying round of the Africa Women Cup of Nations this month.
Zimbabwe host Botswana in the first leg on February 18 at the National Sports Stadium before they travel to Botswana for the second tie on February 23.
The senior women national football side trooped into camp last week. With the locally-based players inactive since the women’s league is not running, Sibanda said the response from the players has been encouraging considering the background they are coming from.
“We have seen some progress so far. Starting from the first day, players were very low on fitness, so we started building on the aerobic capacity first. Then now we have just started some integrated sessions to try and address a lot of components.
“So just a few that needs to go up there but the majority of the players are responding well. We are quite happy with the response,” said Sibanda.
Out of the 30 players called up, 25 locally-based are currently in camp in Harare while Dinah Banda did not come as she is on trials outside Zimbabwe.
The quartet of captain Emmaculate Msipa, who is based in Turkey, Israel-based Rudo Neshamba, Berita Kabwe, who is playing in the Nigerian top-flight league, and Danai Bhobho, who is based in Tanzania, are expected to join camp soon.
Sibanda admitted the fact that there is no league competition has not made it easy for the technical team as well as the players and said it will take time to get the players to the level they would have wanted. But with their assignment closer, they have to work their way around the situation.
Sibanda remains optimistic they will be ready for the tie as they seek to secure a spot at the continental football showpiece to be hosted by Morocco in July.
“We should be ready even if we are not going to be 100 percent. We should be ready for the match.
“The inactivity really is doing us no good. But if it’s the state of the affairs because of Covid what can we do?
“This is what is there but we hope one day something will happen in women’s football. If it’s not the league, at least we could even have some tournaments to keep the players active so that when they come to the national team they are in a better shape.
“So it’s been tough but the thing that drive us is that the girls are really pushing themselves. Everyone missed football and they are putting all their effort. So we appreciate the effort really,” Sibanda.
The Mighty Warriors coach is banking on the foreign-based players to bring their best form, which she believes will go a long way in complementing the efforts from locally-based players.
“I am sure those guys that are outside the country will bring in that match fitness with them because inactivity of the locally-based (players) really puts them a bit backward in terms of the match fitness.
“A player can be fully fit physically and everything but obviously they are always going to lack the match fitness, which is what we are going through now,” said Sibanda.
Zimbabwe’s last appearance at the Africa Women Cup of Nations was in 2016 and they bowed out in the group stages.
Mighty Warriors Provisional Squad
Goalkeepers: Lindiwe Magwede (Herentals Queens), Cynthia Shonga (Harare City Queens), Precious Mudyiwa (Black Rhinos Queens), Leona Bhunu (Bulawayo Chiefs).
Defenders: Nobukhosi Ncube (Correctional Queens), Egness Tumbare, Moreblessing Bwende (Harare City Queens), Edeline Mutumbami, Vimbai Mharadzi, Liliosa Kandemiri (Blue Swallows Queens), Talent Mukwanda (Herentals Queens), Purity Mugayi, Eunice Chibanda (Black Rhinos Queens).
Midfielders: Emmaculate Msipa (Fatih Karagümrük Spor Kulübü, Turkey), Marjory Nyaumwe (Correctional Queens), Shyline Dambamuromo, Alice Moyo (Faith Drive Queens), Mavis Chirandu, Priviledge Mupeti (Black Rhinos Queens), Danai Bhobho (Simba Queens, Tanzania), Ennerty Chemhere (Ubuntu Queens), Berita Kabwe (Rivers Angels, Nigeria).
Strikers: Rudo Neshamba (Ramat HaSharon WFC, Israel), Maudy Mafuruse, Melody Chikoore (Faith Drive Queens), Christabel Katona, Rutendo Makore (Black Rhinos Queens), Natasha Ndowa (Blue Swallows Queens), Shamiso Mutasa (Herentals Queens).
Article Source: The Chronicle