Mighty Warriors leave for Rio
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
“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