Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE’S Young Mighty Warriors will have an uphill task when they face Botswana in the second leg of the women’s Under-17 World Cup football qualifier after they were humiliated 5-0 by their neighbours at the National Stadium in Gaborone on Friday.
The World Cup will be staged in India in December.
The Young Mighty Warriors, featuring in their first competitive match, got a baptism of fire at the international scene on Friday night when they shipped in five goals without reply.
The junior side had a spectacular collapse in the second period conceding four goals in the last 18 minutes of the match.
However, coach Garthly Chipuka is not giving up and still hopes for a decent run in the return leg at home in a fortnight.
He believes the result is not reflective of the game they played on Friday night and the team can put in an extra shift at home and salvage something in this World Cup qualifier.
“They are motivated. The majority know the result isn’t reflective of the game they played and they are disappointed.
“There are a lot of factors at play that resulted in us getting that result. You also need to understand that four of the five goals came in the last 18 minutes.
“Our plans were affected by the time we spent at the border. We lost 12 hours.
“Tactically I also mismanaged the game. I didn’t account for the possibility of the two injuries we got in training and during the game
“Fact is there are a lot of factors and saying them would be seen as excuses.
“We collapsed after the second goal which came against the run of play. Injury to Emmaculate Zulu also contributed to our heavy defeat. Our right back also got injured,” Chipuka said.
The Young Mighty Warriors coach believes the fact that his team still has fresh-faced players with the bulk being 14 and 15 years could also have contributed to their heavy defeat on Friday night.
Although this could be a blessing in disguise for long-term planning if the team is maintained until it graduates to the senior team.
“We just lacked mental strength. I think mainly because the bulk of our players are 14 years old and will be turning 15 this year,” said Chipuka.
Their opponents are on the back of a very successful 2019 after reaching the semi-finals of the inaugural Under-17 Women’s Cosafa Championships and coach Tapaphiwa Gaebolae is looking to go a step further.
It was always going to be difficult for the Zimbabwe side to overcome the Batswana side which was competitive last year even before they participated at the Cosafa inaugural Under-17 Championships which they reached the semis.
The neighbours started talent identification last year in March and even featured in an international match whilst the Young Mighty Warriors were hastily assembled before the Festive Season.
Going into Friday night’s match, the Botswana coach Gaebolae hinted that he wanted to do the job at home before travelling for the reverse tie with a comfortable victory.
The Young Mighty Warriors, who broke camp after their return from Botswana, are expected to regroup soon for the second leg which is on the weekend of January 24-26.