The match against Angola will decide the women soccer team’s marathon campaign.The last time the Mighty Warriors were at the All Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2003 was by invitation only.They have never qualified for the tournament but this time coach Rosemary Mugadza says the Mighty Warriors are ready to rock and roll.
“ We have worked hard to be where we are, and there is no way we can let that opportunity slip. The players are ready for the match and I have every reason to believe we will beat Angola and qualify, ” says Mugadza.
Mugadza’s confidence is borne in part on the fact that the Mighty Warriors are playing in a familiar home turf of Rufaro Stadium and should also expect a bumper crowd to rally behind them after the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) resolved not to charge any entry fees for the match.She also reveals no injury worries apart from that of Violet Depete who was injured in the first leg in Dundo, but still, she has that experience in midfield with skipper Nomsa Moyo assisted by Marjory Nyaumwe and Talent Mandaza who have been playing for the Mighty Warrirors since the days when Mugadza herself was a player and captain of the same team.
Mugadza should also be credited for building a team of youth and experience. Upfront she has the youthful talents of Rudo Neshamba, Kudakwashe Basopo and Rudo Machingura to bank on while the defence has been solid with the performance of Patience Majuru, and Eunice Chibanda.Although from the outset, the Mighty Warriors are favourites to win the match, the team should be wary of history as on several occasions the senior men’s team, the Warriors have been in similar circumstances only to blow away the opportunity on the last day of play.
On 14 July, 1991, at the National Sports Stadium, the nation’s afternoon of celebration turned to despair when John Sibanda allowed a harmless looking ball to cross the line to give Congo an injury time equalizer and a place at the Nations Cup finals.The Warriors had appeared on course for qualification when goals by Henry McKop and Peter Ndlovu had given them a 2-1 lead before the Sibanda blemish.That is not the end of it. In 1993, the Warriors, needing a win of any scoreline at the National Sports Stadium against Zambia, and leading 1-0, conceded a Kalusha Bwalya header deep into the second half to leave the teams at one-all and a place for Zambia at the 1994 Nations Cup finals.
Mugadza, though, says they are aware of history and are prepared to guard against that.The Angolans, though, are known for playing a direct counter attacking type of football, but statistics and current form is pointing to a Mighty Warriors victory, and a historic qualification to the All Africa Games to be held in Maputo, Mozambique from 3 to 18 September.