Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
MIGHTY Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda has pleaded with Zifa not to disband the national Under-17 side that was knocked out of the 2020 World Cup Qualifiers by Botswana.
The Young Mighty Warriors were booted out in a humiliating 7-0 aggregate after losing both legs of the qualifier. They were hammered 5-0 in Gaborone two weeks ago and felled 2-0 in Bulawayo on Sunday.
It was the first time Zimbabwe had assembled an Under-17 side.
Botswana coach Tapaphilwa Gaebolae revealed that they had started assembling their squad in April last year through a talent identification programme. The same team that beat Zimbabwe played in the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in Port Elizabeth.
Prior to the first leg against Zimbabwe, Botswana went into camp for about a month preparing for the game compared to Zimbabwe’s two-week camp that was marred by several hiccups. Some players failed to secure travelling documents for the first-leg tie in Gaborone, disrupting any plans the technical team may have had.
“Football is a process; these girls need to keep playing. If you look at the Botswana side, they have been together for some time now and they understand each other. This is the first time as a country that we have a national Under-17 side so there is not much we can complain about. What is important now is to keep the girls playing,” said Sibanda.
“It is now the opportune time to develop players for the senior team stage by stage. Most of the time we have players representing the country at senior level without experience from the junior ranks. We now have an Under-17 team which we should build from and ensure that it develops players for our senior team stage by stage.”
Coach Langton Giwa concurred with Sibanda’s sentiments.
“We have been in contact with the authorities to say we need to keep this team if we are planning for the future. What need to make sure that we keep these girls together so that they grow together and become a force together. We have Cosafa coming up in April and if we participate in that competition and keep this team together l am positive that we will come up with something positive,” said Giwa. – @innocentskizoe