GERMAN DUEL IN RIO Mighty Warriors face world powerhouse in Olympic debut
OLYMPICS football debutants the Mighty Warriors go into today’s opening game as underdogs when they take on the physically imposing Germans in Group F, dubbed the tournament’s group of death.
Group F features three teams in the world’s top 10 that all made it to the quarter-finals of the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup. Germany are ranked second, Australia fifth and Canada 10th in the world, while the Mighty Warriors are ranked 93rd in the world.
The Mighty Warriors’ brave coach Shadreck Mlauzi has warned of a “shocker” if the Germans approach the match looking down upon them. The match will be at 11PM Zimbabwean time. Mlauzi is under no illusion about what they are up against tonight.
“We know that we are up against a team that’s very physical; they’ve very good height, are strong in the air, and because of the experience, they are most likely to dominate possession, so we will be more than happy to sit back, absorb pressure and hope to catch them on the break. But again it’s important that we be organised defensively,” said Mlauzi.
He said the international friendly they played against China on Friday gave them good exposure despite their 0-3 loss.
While the Mighty Warriors lost their final practice match, Germany routed Ghana 11-0 as they sought experience playing African opponents ahead of tonight’s clash.
Mlauzi said they had been working on mentally reconditioning the girls to remove the fear factor when they take to the field.
“Obviously our girls, due to the nature of the opponents, will be a bit frightened, but we’re trying to work on confidence. We hope we will be able to put on a performance that will assist us in future. We hope to stand our ground and give the Germans a difficult match and at the same time if they’re not careful, we might cause a shocker here,” he said.
He is also aware of reality on the ground and wants everyone to accept and be prepared for any eventuality, largely because of the shoddy preparations the girls had, as the technical team’s strategic road map to Rio was totally ignored by Zifa.
“It’s obviously not going to be easy because it’s our first time being here. We’re trying to carve a good platform and gauge our state of women’s football. It’s quite a tall order, but we’re hoping the girls will come through and compete. It’s not about going up there and wanting to win the tournament because there is still a big gap between Africa and the rest of the world at the present moment,” Mlauzi said.
Zimbabwe’s second game is against Canada on Saturday followed by their final group game against Australia on August 9. — @skhumoyo2000
Bruce Kangwa (circled) in Azam colours