BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Zimbabwe women football team, the Mighty Warriors, could be crowned the Cosafa champions for the second time with a victory over neighbouring giants South Africa in a final pitting the two teams that represented Africa at the Rio Olympics, at Barbourfields this afternoon.
Coached by former midfield kingpin, Sithethelelwe Sibanda, the Mighty Warriors have already exceeded expectations, reaching the finals in the backdrop of poor preparations.
Zimbabwe went into the competition as defending champions for winning the regional Cup the last time it was played in 2011, beating South Africa 1-0 at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.
Sibanda seems to have a game plan to upset Banyana Banyana one more time.
“If only we stick to our game plan, philosophy and type of play, then we can be able to overcome our opponents [South Africa]. We just need to have a good tactical approach in that game,” Sibanda said.
“This is another game played on a different day so we will have a different approach and hopefully, our tactics on the day works. At the end of the day, you cannot predict what is going to happen but I am expecting an interesting game.”
The Mighty Warriors eased past the highest scorers in the competition, Kenya, in the semi-final at Barbourfields on Thursday, with in-form midfielder Marjory Nyaumwe voted the player of the match.
South Africa needed miracles to bounce back from 3-0 down in the last 15 minutes of their semifinal to draw the match and eventually overcome Zambia 5-3 on penalties.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis tipped the Mighty Warriors to win the tournament.
“Zimbabwe are the holders and the hosts. I think that makes them the favourites. We were runners-up in 2011 and we might be the highest-ranked team in the tournament, but I don’t think in football the favourites’ tag means anything. The playing field has been levelled and we cannot take any team lightly,” Ellis said.
“It will be naïve for a coach coming into a tournament not wanting to win. You come to a tournament to win it.”
Zimbabwe boasts of the leading scorer in the Cosafa Women’s Championship Rutendo Makore with nine goals, having scored in each of the four games that the Mighty Warriors played to reach the final.
Left-back Sheila Makoto is also having a tournament of her life, making raids into her opponents and feeding Makore to score the important goals for the Mighty Warriors.
Right-back Nobukhosi Ncube was injured in the first half against Kenya and could be replaced by Danai Bhobho today.