Africa: Zim for Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup

21 November 2019

THE Zimbabwe Copa Coca-Cola boys football team to represent the nation at the second edition of the Africa Cup tournament in Thika, Kenya, next month will be hoping for better fortunes.

They failed to go beyond the group stages at the inaugural event last year.

Zimbabwe were drawn in Pool A together with defending champions and hosts Kenya and Mozambique.

The tournament takes place from December 2 to December 5.

It's specifically for the Under-16s.

In the other groups, South Africa are up against Zambia and Tanzania in Pool B while Ethiopia, Namibia and Uganda will battle it out in Pool C.

Pool D is made up of Burkina Faso, Angola and Botswana.

The tournament is a showcase of skills and is aimed at developing young footballers into the next generation of stars.

Last year Zimbabwe made an early exit from the tourney when they failed to go past the group stages after a goalless draw and a 0-3 loss to Nigeria.

Prince Edward coach, Pathias Mauto, who was the winning coach at this year's edition of the local tournament, will be in charge of the Zimbabwe side.

"I think it's a very good group. But it's a very tricky one, especially when we are starting with the host team," he said.

"I think we are going to pull through the group stages, especially with the selected boys we have.

"Looking back, last year we had the youngest team, having people like Alvin Dube, who was there last year, I think we are going to use that experience.

"I think we have about three of them from last year . . . As a new coach I just want to make history."

With Prince Edward and Rusununguko providing the bulk of the players in the 16-member team, Mauto said it makes his job easier since he knows most of them.

Zimbabwe Coca-Cola franchise manager, Milidzani Ncube, said the tournament has proved key in offering opportunities for young and upcoming players to realise their dreams of becoming professional footballers.

The has seen several players, including former Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu, coming through this platform.

"The Copa Africa Cup is a platform that will go a long way in ensuring that students are the next generation of soccer stars," said Ncube.

"The array of stars the tournament has provided to the national football teams of the participating teams is a testament of the crucial nature of the game.

"Our partner, the National Association of Secondary School Heads, has immensely supported and managed the tourney, ensuring the success of the games."

The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals.

Previously, the selected players from different countries would go for specialised camps but last year the organisers introduced the Africa Cup.

NASH head in charge of football, Tranos Mbwirire, is the head of delegation for the Zimbabwe contingent.

They are expected to leave for Kenya on December 1.

The tournament themed "Bigger for Better" seeks to promote a level playing field by bringing together players from different backgrounds and cultures for one goal, which is to be the African champion.

Zimbabwe Team:

Alvin Dube, Ronald Panashe Uraya, Tadiwanashe Masukuta, Stephen Chatikobo, Prosperity Carlos Gwaze, Claivert Rodgers Tshuma, Dylan Tafara Gumbe, Keith Mashava Wema, Thomas Learnmore Gutsa, Alfa Tinotenda Chiwashira, Tendai Blessing Muvuti, Shingai Chimoyo, Enasio Perezo, Nigel Muza Marufu, Bekezela Prince Mpofu, Luke Musikiri.

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