THE Mighty Warriors will kick off Team Zimbabwe’s campaign at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday when they square off against European champions Germany at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe’s national women’s football team head into their opening battle against the Germans hoping to give a good account of themselves ahead of equally tough Group F encounters against Australia and Canada. Although not many are expecting them to give Germany or the other teams in their group any trouble, coach Shadreck Mlauzi and his charges will be quietly confident of not only being competitive, but also causing an unlikely upset.
The Mighty Warriors warmed up for the Wednesday clash with a 3-0 defeat to China — their only competitive friendly in Rio ahead of the global showpiece.
Despite their lack of preparatory matches, the Mighty Warriors could surprise many in Rio, banking on their good defensive organisation, which was their main feature during the qualifiers.
The Mighty Warriors’ back line is marshaled by veteran goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai and she is aided by defender Nobuhle Majika in ensuring that the team remains compact and difficult to break.
In midfield, expect the likes of Mavis Chirandu and Emmaculate Msipa to prove the catalyst of any offensive forays by Zimbabwe and up top, captain Felistas Muzongondi leads the line alongside Rudo Neshamba, who the team will bank on to provide the goals in Rio.
The Mighty Warriors’ tough fixture against Germany will set in motion what should be a busy week for Zimbabwean athletes in Rio, according to the schedule released by the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee on Friday.
After the Mighty Warriors’ opening group match, attention in the Team Zimbabwe camp will shift to UK-based marksman Gavin Sutherland, who is expected to line up in the archery competition on Friday, a few hours before the Rio Games opening ceremony.
The archery competition at the Olympics will be held at the iconic Sambodromo in downtown Rio de Janeiro over two days and Sutherland, a former international cyclist will line up against some of the world’s best archers.
A day later, attention will shift to equestrian and rowing competitions where Zimbabwe are represented by Camilla Kruger and the rowing duo of Micheen Thornycroft (women singles sculls) and Andrew Peebles (men’s singles sculls) respectively.
Kruger, the first-ever Zimbabwean to qualify for an equestrian sport at the Olympics, will compete in the individual eventing competition with her horse “Sam The Man”.
“He is a very talented horse and still has so much more to give. Rio will be fantastic exposure and experience for him,” Kruger told Standardsport ahead of her Olympic bow. “At these games, I am aiming for a consistent performance and a top 15 finish. But I have big plans for the next Olympics,” she said
Zimbabwe’s seven-time Olympic medalists Kirsty Coventry, competing in her Olympic swansong, will kickstart her campaign by taking part in the heats of the 100m backstroke next Sunday at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio.
Coventry, who shares the record of seven individual medals with Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi, could become the first female swimmer to win eight individual medals.
While her biggest shot at a record eighth Olympic medal in Rio lies in her signature event — the 200m backstroke — Coventry will also compete in the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley.
Zimbabwe’s other swimmer at the Games, Sean Gunn, is scheduled to compete in the 100m freestyle on August 9, while Michael Nicholson takes part in the men’s double trap a day later at the Olympic Shooting Centre.
US-based sprinters Gabriel Mvumvure and Tatenda Tsumba are expected to arrive in Rio early this week ahead of their participation in the heats of the 100m and 200m on August 13 and 16 respectively.
Rutendo Nyahora will take part in the women’s marathon, while the trio of Pardon Ndhlovu, Cuthbert Nyasango and Wirimayi Juwao will be the last Zimbabwean athletes in action when they feature in the men’s marathon on August 21.
Zimbabwe’s Rio Olympic Games Schedule:
Aug 3 Football
Aug 5 Archery
Aug 6 Archery, Equestrian, Rowing
Aug 7 Swimming 100m Backstroke
Aug 8 Swimming 200m IM
Aug 9 Swimming 100m free style
Aug 10 Shooting, swimming 200m Backstroke
Aug 13 Athletics 100m
14 Aug Athletics Women marathon
16 Aug Athletics 200m
21 Aug Athletics Marathon Men
Zimbabwe Olympic squad:
Aquatics (Swimming): Kirsty Coventry, Sean Gunn
Archery: Gavin Sutherland
Athletics: Wirimai Juwawo, Gabriel Mvumvure, Pardon Ndhlovu, Rutendo Nyahora, Cuthbert Nyasango, Tatenda Tsumba
Equestrian: Camilla Kruger
Rowing: Andrew Peebles, Micheen Thornycroft.
Shooting: Michael Nicholson
Women’s football: Mighty Warriors: Kudakwashe Bhasopo, Eunice Chibanda, Chido Dzingirai, Erina Jeke, Daisy Kaitano, Rejoice Kapfumvuti, Lindiwe Magwede, Rutendo Makore, Sheila Makoto, Talent Mandaza, Emmaculate Msipa, Lynett Mutokuto, Felistas Muzongondi, Rudo Neshamba, Marjory Nyaumwe, Samkelisiwe Zulu, Mavis Chirandu, Nobuhle Majika.