Zimbabwe: Mighty Warriors Begin Awcon Journey

20 October 2021

THE Mighty Warriors will today begin another journey which they hope will take them to the Africa Women Cup of Nations finals, next year.

They host Eswatini, in a first round, first leg match, hoping to emulate the Class of 2016, which qualified for the continental showpiece, in Cameroon.

The Mighty Warriors will travel to Mbabane, for the return leg, on October 26.

The winner will progress to the last qualifying round, where they will meet the winner, between Angola and Botswana.

Zimbabwe also qualified for the AWCON finals in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

The Mighty Warriors reached the semi-finals on their debut appearance in 2000.

It remains the team's best performance.

Five years ago, Zimbabwe bowed out at the group stages.

Some of the players, who powered that campaign, are no longer part of the team.

Emmaculate Msipa, Majoury Nyaumwe and striker Rudo Neshamba are core members of the Mighty Warriors.

They also have some exciting young players -- Maud Mafuruse, Priviledge Mupeti and Natasha Ndowa -- who have been coming through the ranks.

The Mighty Warriors have dominated all the matches they have played, against Eswatini, at the COSAFA tournaments.

And, in the just-ended COSAFA Championships in the Eastern Cape, Eswatini lost all their group games against Zambia (0-5), Uganda (1-5) and Namibia (0-1).

But, Mighty Warriors coach, Sithetheliwe "Kwinji 15" Sibanda, has warned her charges against complacency.

"There is no room for complacency, we know they have their strengths," she said.

"We have played against them, and managed to beat them, but they have their strengths, so we are approaching this game, with the right mindset.

"But we have prepared for them."

The Mighty Warriors have been in camp for a month now, having regrouped, for the COSAFA Women Championships.

After they returned from South Africa, they did not break camp, and used the time to build on their fitness levels.

Although they were humbled by Tanzania, at the regional tournament, losing 0-3, and failed to progress to the semi-finals, they are confident they will carry a healthy lead, to Mbabane.

A record 44 countries will be participating in the AWCON first round matches this week.

The second round matches have been scheduled for next February, months before the finals are staged, in Morocco.

Champions Nigeria host Ghana today, in the biggest match, in this round.

CAF have since been slammed for using a different format, during the draw, which did not seed the women's football powerhouses.

This means one of these heavyweights will not be part of the African jamboree next year.

Banyana Banyana, who lost to Nigeria at the 2018 finals in Ghana, are away to Mozambique ,in today's first round match.

COSAFA Region Fixtures

Today: Malawi v Zambia, Tanzania v Namibia, Zimbabwe v Eswatini, Angola v Botswana, Mozambique v South Africa.

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