Zimbabwe coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda admits her side had received a “tricky” draw in the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championships as they prepare to battle for the trophy this year in Nelson Mandela Bay from September 12-22.
Zimbabwe were champions in 2011, but lost to South Africa in the final on home soil last year, and in 2018 have another tough first round draw.
The Mighty Warriors open their Group C campaign against Namibia on September 13, before a clash with Swaziland the following day and then a final fixture against East African guest nation Uganda.
“It’s a very tricky draw just like the other groups. Believe me Namibia are a very good team,” Sibanda told The Herald. “This is a new game, it’s not about history, but about how prepared and how we will perform in the match.
“The Uganda game is a very tricky assignment, they are fresh from CECAFA [Women’s Challenge Cup], the team cohesion is still there, we need to be at our best.
“At the end of the day we just have to try and work with the time that we have and stay positive,” Sibanda added.
The coach believes the field, that also includes Cameroon, ranked number three on the African continent, is a very tough one.
“West African countries possess talent as shown by them having foreign-based talent, so it’s a tricky tournament. We just need to be positive and give it our best and let God lead the rest.”
Only the top team in each group will advance to the semifinals, along with the best-placed runner-up.
Women’s football in Zimbabwe has seen a resurgence in recent years after the side won the Southern African championship in 2011 and also qualified for the Olympic Games football tournament in Brazil in 2016.
Zimbabwe preliminary squad
Goalkeepers: Shebba Rauli (Auckland), Chido Dzingirai (Correctional), Lindiwe Magwede (Cyclone Stars), Cynthia Shonga (Faith Drive).
Defenders: Sheila Makoto (Blue Swallows), Lynett Mutokuto (Black Rhinos), Sarudzai Chikowore (Harare City), Edline Mutumbami (Blue Swallows), Danai Bhobho (Harare City), Nobuhle Majika (M.S. U), Nobukhosi Ncube (Correctional), Sithembile Nyoni (Weerams), Diana Nyika (M.S.U).
Midfielders: Emmaculate Msipa (Black Rhinos), Marjory Nyaumwe (Correctional), Mavis Chirandu (Black Rhinos), Greater Bande (Cyclone Stars), Rumbidzai Zhoya (Auckland), Felistas Muzongondi (Black Rhinos), Peacemore Kenende (Inline Academy), Evermore Mutandwa (Weerams), Kudzanai Chiparausha (Blue Swallows), Concilia Madotsa (Faith Drive).
Strikers: Maudy Mafuruse (Faith Drive), Rutendo Makore (Black Rhinos), Erina Jeke (Correctional), Berita Kabwe (Correctional), Shamiso Mutasa (Harare City) Elizabeth Bvunzawabaya (Cyclone Stars), Susan Nyama (Herentals).