Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
THE Young Warriors suffered an embarrassing exit from the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and coach Tonderai Ndiraya believes that the country has to borrow a leaf from South Africa’s development structures’ set-up.
Ndiraya’s charges were dumped out of the qualifiers 5-0 on aggregate. They were hammered 5-0 in Johannesburg last Friday and drew 0-0 at Barbourfields Stadium on Tuesday.
Identifying what went wrong in their campaign, Ndiraya said the country had a lot to learn from its neighbour.
“What we saw between the two sides was a huge gap. The most important thing is that we must learn from our colleagues. Preparation is the key to success, if you don’t prepare then you have to forget about success,” said Ndiraya.
“We did not prepare enough. South Africa did not start their preparations when they were going to play Zimbabwe, but they have been doing that for some time now. I was speaking to their coach and he was telling me his guys have been together since 2014. This shows you these guys knew what they wanted a long time ago, which is to qualify for Afcon with the bigger picture being to also qualify for the Olympics. In the planning process, they played some of their boys in the Cosafa Cup and Chan tournaments, for the sole reason of qualifying for the Olympics.
“We need to learn from that. We have to set ourselves goals to say what we want to do in the next four years. We can’t just be assembling and going for matches, we can’t compete against teams that are well prepared. We have to change and start doing things the right way, learning from our neighbours.”
His sentiments were echoed by South African Under-23 coach David Notoane.
“If you look at our team, it is a side that we have been developing from the Under-17. Some of the boys have been to the Under-17 World Cup and Under-20 level. We have to deliver these guys to the senior team at the same time ensuring that we achieve things. We went to Cosafa and Chan and drew lessons from those experiences,” said Notoane.
“Zimbabwe have lots of talent at youth level. You see a bit of potential in this squad; what is needed is to give these boys an opportunity to grow together and better preparations for tournaments of a higher magnitude.”
The Under-23 Afcon is scheduled to take place in November in Egypt. Three of the best finishers at the eight-team biannual contest will qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. – @innocentskizoe