Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
MIGHTY Warriors coach, Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda, has said Zimbabwe should prepare thoroughly if they hope to lift the Cosafa Women Championship title after the team was placed in a fair group in a draw conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday.
The Mighty Warriors were placed in Group C as the top seed and will face Mozambique, Angola and Eswatini.
The regional showpiece kicks-off from July 31 to August 11 and for the second year running it will be staged at the Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
This year’s tournament will run simultaneously with the inaugural Cosafa Under-20 Women’s Championship.
At Wednesday’s draw held at Cosafa House in Johannesburg, the Young Mighty Warriors were drawn in a tough Group A against hosts South Africa, Namibia and Malawi.
However, Zifa are yet to come up with the technical team for the women’s age-group team.
Sibanda said she had hoped to face any team as it is all about preparation.
“It is all about preparation at the end of the day otherwise it’s a fair draw. Obviously we should be ready for anyone.
“I am sure we have the potential to win the Cup again if we prepare well. When we won the Cup a few years ago the preparations were spot-on, the team had several friendly matches and a lengthy camp so it is all about putting resources into the preparations,” said Sibanda.
Angola are making a return to the tournament after a 10-year absence. Angola reached the finals in 2008 when they hosted the regional tournament but lost 1-3 to South Africa.
Interestingly, they played Zimbabwe in their debut Cosafa Cup appearance in 2006 and in a match played over two legs, Angola lost both matches to the Mighty Warriors 3-1 and 1-0.
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) last featured at the Barbourfields finals in 2017 but did not progress beyond the group stages.
Mozambique have not managed to reach the semi- finals since the 2002 Championships.
Zimbabwe senior women’s soccer team won the regional title in 2011 at Rufaro beating South Africa 1-0 in the final.
They are yet to win the Cup again and in 2017 they lost to Banyana Banyana in the final at Barbourfields.
The Mighty Warriors have been inactive since October when they were booted out in the Cosafa semis. But the technical team has been monitoring the progress of some regular players as well as new talent.
Sibanda was in Harare over the weekend to assess the performance of players during the women’s National Super League.
“I had to travel to Harare to scout for talent because currently that’s where the majority of teams playing in the national league are based and I can tap talent there.
“I saw a number of players with potential but we need to assess these players at national level as club and national level are two different things and we really need to see how these players respond.
“So it was both assessing performance of those who were currently in the system but also trying to look for others,” she said.
The former Mighty Warriors’ midfielder had an opportunity to watch a number of matches including high profile games of Black Rhinos Queens versus Herentals at Motor Action as well as Harare City and Midlands State University.
Zimbabwe would be using the Cosafa platform to fine-tune their preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers.
The Mighty Warriors, who received a bye in the earlier rounds, will begin their Olympic Games qualifiers in late August and early September when they play Zambia in the double-legged tie.
The winner will progress to the last qualifying round.
The Mighty Warriors participated at the last Summer Games in Rio, Brazil in 2016.
Group A: South Africa, Malawi, Comoros Islands, Madagascar
Group B: Zambia, Namibia, Mauritius, Botswana
Group C: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Eswatini
COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-20
Group A: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi
Group B: Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Eswatini