Mighty Warriors leave for Rio

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Grace Chin­goma

MIGHTY Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi is bank­ing on the friendly match against China in Rio de Janeiro this Fri­day to give him an assess­ment of the team be­fore their open­ing Olympic Games match against Ger­many next Wed­nes­day.

The team left for the Sum­mer Olympics yes­ter­day morn­ing while the rest of Team Zim­babwe mem­bers and of­fi­cials will be leav­ing in batches with the athletics team be­ing the last to de­part on Au­gust 18.

The Olympics will run from Au­gust 5 to 21 but the foot­ball tour­na­ment will com­mence two days be­fore the Games of­fi­cially start.

The Mighty Warriors are in Group F to­gether with two-time World Cup cham­pi­ons Ger­many whom they meet first be­fore they face Canada on Au­gust 6.

They com­plete the group stages matches with a tie against Aus­tralia on Au­gust 9.

“We are al­most there in terms of our state of pre­pared­ness but we want to fine-tune when we get to Brazil and play a friendly match against China on Fri­day then we will know from there what we will be up against,” said Mlauzi. “This game will go a long way in as­sist­ing us test the things that we have been work­ing on at train­ing like our tac­tics, our level of phys­i­cal con­di­tion­ing, which is very im­por­tant, our char­ac­ter as a team is go­ing to be tested.

“We are up there and so we need to fi­nalise ev­ery­thing when we start playing friendly matches.

“A match sit­u­a­tion is the best fo­rum in which you can test your players, so we are re­ally itch­ing for a match re­ally be­cause we have demon­strated we are up there in terms of prepa­ra­tions, we can match any team in the world at this point in time.”

Mlauzi said the three-week train­ing camp in Bin­dura laid a good foun­da­tion for the team which should be able to stand its ground in Rio pit­ted against some of the world’s top-ranked teams.

The Mighty Warriors roped in a psy­chol­o­gist who has been work­ing with the players, a de­vel­op­ment which the coach be­lieves helped his charges.

Mlauzi added that be­ing hosted by Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe, be­fore de­par­ture, will mo­ti­vate them to do well.

“It is an in­spi­ra­tion re­ally, to get such a sendoff from the Pres­i­dent, one feels con­soled, the vigour to be in­spired by the Head of State. So we can only go and do our best.

“We also want ev­ery­one to rally be­hind the team in good and bad times and we prom­ise them we are not go­ing just to add num­bers.

“We will go and com­pete as we have al­ways demon­strated when we go and play matches,” he said.

Mlauzi, who is a teacher by pro­fes­sion, also be­lieves the big stage at the Olympics will ex­pose his players and is hop­ing that some of the players may get pro­fes­sional con­tracts

after­wards.

“We have set tar­gets. We want to get through the group stages and then we take it up from there.

“We have a tal­ented group, if it doesn’t come up it is our first time, we would be more than happy to have at least five players break­ing into pro­fes­sional leagues, we would be re­ally happy with that.

“We have set in­di­vid­ual and team tar­gets as well, so ei­ther will do for us,” said Mlauzi.

Mean­while, the Zim­babwe Olympic Com­mit­tee say they are still to come up with the prize money for the ath­letes that will pick gold, sil­ver and bronze medals at the Olympics as they are still com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the Min­istry of Sport and Re­cre­ation.

Thirty-one ath­letes and 26 of­fi­cials are go­ing for the Games.

Mighty Warriors players hoist coach Shadreck Mlauzi as they cel­e­brate their Rio Olympics qual­i­fi­ca­tion in this file photo

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