The Young Warriors are in bullish mood ahead of their first Cosafa Championships group match in Mauritius this morning, although they expect a tough duel against Swaziland. The Zimbabwe national Under-17 football team, which arrived on the resort Indian Ocean island on Sunday, believe they have thoroughly prepared for the clash.
Yesterday, coach Tafadzwa Mashiri said they need a positive attitude in the first game to set the right tone for the two other group matches against Malawi on Monday and Angola next Wednesday.
"Our preparations have gone well. All the players went through pre-tournament procedures and they were successful, including in the MRI screening.
"The boys look focused and ready for the match against Swaziland. We are doing a lot of psychological preparations such that they approach the game with a positive mentality," said Mashiri.
The Physical Education teacher said they will not take their opponents lightly as they could run the risk of suffering a defeat in their first game at the tournament.
"Swaziland have improved a lot over the past few years and they are very physical. We expect a tough match," he said.
The Young Warriors are seeking to atone for a disappointing run in last year's Cosafa tournament where the team bowed out at the group stage without a single victory.
The Cosafa Cup got underway yesterday, with Namibia lighting up the opening day with a comprehensive 8-3 victory against Seychelles at the Stade St Francois Xavier in Port Louis.
According to Cosafa.com, Namibia's Prins Tjiueza scored four goals and Tyrin George also grabbed a hat-trick as the 2016 champions ran riot in the second period, having claimed a 4-3 half-time lead.
Seychelles, who scored their goals through Afandi Aboudou, Jarrel Suzette and Rino Pauline, had levelled the game at 3-3 after 20 minutes in what was an action-packed opening to the tournament. But the islanders faded in the second period as Namibia continued to pile the pressure on and provided an early show of their potential to go all the way again in this year's competition.
Hosts Mauritius, who were finalists last year, lost 1-0 to Botswana in the other match in Group A.
The closely-fought clash looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw before Oageng Maphorisa converted from the spot for the Young Zebras with eight minutes remaining. Home defender Laurent Maison Rouge, who conceded the spot-kick, was also handed the first red card of the tournament as Mauritius finished the game with 10 men.
There was also a single fixture in Group B, where defending champions Zambia were held to a 0-0 draw by Mozambique.
The top team in each of the three groups and the best runner-up will progress as the 12 competing sides seek to be crowned champions and secure a place at next year's African Under-17 Championships in Tanzania.
Probable Young Warriors team
MacDonald Mapondera (captain), Tanaka Matenga, Simbarashe Dauka, Marlvin Soko, Marlvin Hativagoni, Munashe Manyeruke, Wesley Chitsumba, Tinotenda Munengami, John Bonomali, Tapiwa Mandinyenya, Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya.