ZIMBABWE Under 17 soccer coach Rodwell Dhlakama says the draw for the African Junior Championships next month does not scare him.
The Young Warriors were grouped with Burkina Faso, Niger and Malawi. The tournament is set for March in Algeria.
“In my opinion it was a fair draw,” Dhlakama said. “ There is nothing much you can do about a draw. All teams stand an equal chance. All teams played well in the qualifiers – they are all good teams.
“Any team that qualifies for a tournament of this magnitude is a good team so we should expect all the teams to be on the same footing. If anything we are one of the teams to watch because we qualified as group winners.”
The team resumed training last Thursday but without some key players like star captain Archie Gutu. The Young Warriors will also play local premiership sides as part of their preparations.
Dhlakama is also currently the caretaker coach of Zimbabwean league champions Monomotapa. He took over at the ambitious Harare side after former Zimbabwe captain Norman Mapeza quit in a huff in December. He draws most of his Under 17 players from the club.
With Zimbabwe still smarting from failure to qualify for both the World Cup and African Nations Cup in 2010, much attention has been turned to the youth representative sides and the Young Warriors’ qualification was greeted with excitement in local football circles.
BY KUDZAYI TIGERE