Black Rhinos Queens face race against time to prepare for Champions League

The challenge for some teams at the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League l COSAFA Qualifier from August 26 to September 4 is no more well defined than Zimbabwe side Black Rhinos Queens, who have not been in competitive action for almost two years.

As is the case in many countries across the region, the COVID-19 situation in Zimbabwe has had a severe effect on the country’s football, with government restrictions at times meaning players could not even train together, let alone play.

The challenge now is to get the team ready for the regional tournament that starts in three weeks’ time, but coach Malven Moyo is confident they can pull it off.

“We last played in 2019, but we have been training in batches here and there,” Moyo says. “This year we have not trained due to the restrictions, but we have given our players individual training, and our fitness trainer and coaches have been monitoring the players and visiting them individually.”

Black Rhinos are in the three-team Group B along with Zambian side Green Buffaloes and Namibia’s TURA Magic in what will be a tough pool.

The top two will advance to the semifinals and keep themselves on track win the tournament, which not only comes with regional bragging rights, but also a place at the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League finals in Cairo later in the year.

“It is an exciting draw, and we are looking forward to it,” Moyo says. “Three teams will not be easy, we don’t know each other, save for Zambia that has been in the Olympics recently. We have seen some of their good players.
“We just have to remain focused, and not look too much at the opponents, and just do our own things right and take it from there.”

South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies are the seeded side in Group A, and will take on Lesotho Defence Force, Double Action Ladies from Botswana, and Eswatini’s Manzini Wanderers.

Moyo says women’s football in Zimbabwe is on the rise, even if the pandemic has forced them to take a few steps back.

“It’s coming up, unfortunately due to the pandemic it has come to a halt. But it is really improving, we saw that when our women’s team qualified for the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro [in 2016],” he said.

Black Rhinos have beefed up their squad with the loan signings of national team stars Marjoury Nyaumwe (from Cyclone Queens) and Rudo Neshamba (from Harare City).