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Mighty Warriors leave for COSAFA

MIGHTY Warriors coach Sithetheliwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda has named a strong team of 19 players for the COSAFA Championship, which gets underway at Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa, tomorrow.

The COSAFA Championship returns from tomorrow to October 9 in the Eastern Cape.

Zimbabwe will open their campaign against Tanzania on Wednesday.

“We are definitely going to do better than last year as we also beefed up the playing personnel,’’ said Sibanda.

‘’The idea is to field our strongest team in South Africa so that we also prepare for the (AFCON women) qualifiers and that gives us the much needed game time.

“In the COSAFA matches, the players will certainly regain that lost match fitness.”

Zimbabwe are in the same group along East Africans guests Tanzania and South Sudan as well as Botswana.

Twelve countries are taking part in the annual tournament.

The top team from each group, and the best-placed runners-up, will advance into the semi-finals. The 12 teams have been split into three groups, each containing four teams.

They play each other in a round-robin format earning three points for a win and one for a draw.

The fact that each competing team is guaranteed a minimum of three games, going up to a maximum of five should they reach the semi-finals, is an advantage for Zimbabwe.

The Mighty Warriors badly need game time, and match fitness, ahead of the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Tanzania have selected a youthful squad of 20 players. Last year, the Mighty Warriors faced both Tanzania and Botswana, in their group, and failed to beat both teams, as they crashed out at the first hurdle.

Zimbabwe exited without a point and without a goal.

But, Sibanda believes she has picked a formidable team, this time around, having opted for relatively young players comprising of Under-20s, last year.

Tanzania coach, Bakari Shime, led the East Africa guest nation as they lifted the title, at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship and the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship.

He has since been elevated to lead the senior team but continues to use the tournament for the development of his players.

His squad has four 16-year-olds in Husna Mtunda, Mwamvua Haruna, Koku Kipanga and Clara Luvanga.

They also have a 15-year-old, Zawadi Athuman. Tanzania have 11 players aged 20 years, or younger.

Mighty Warriors team:

Goalkeepers: Precious Mudyiwa, Cynthia Shonga, Lindiwe Magwede.

Defenders: Eunice Chibanda, Sheila Makoto, Nobukhosi Ncube, Edeline Mutumbami, Egness Tumbare, Talent Mukwanda,

Midfielders: Marjoury Nyaumwe, Emmaculate Msipa Mavis Chirandu, Shyline Dambamuromo Christabel Katona.

Strikers: Rutendo Makore, Rudo Neshamba, Maud Mafuruse, Natasha Ndowa, Priviledge Mupeti.

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