Man­daza gets Mighty War­riors arm­band

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Grace Chin­goma Harare Bureau

TAL­ENT Man­daza has taken over as the new cap­tain of the Mighty War­riors after she was handed the arm­band yes­ter­day to lead the team ahead of the Africa Women Cup of Na­tions soc­cer fi­nals which be­gins on Novem­ber 19 in Cameroon.

The mid­fielder re­places Felis­tas “Figo” Mu­zon­gondi who has been cap­tain­ing the ship since 2013 when her pre­de­ces­sor, goal­keeper Onai Chin­gawo, quit foot­ball fol­low­ing her mar­riage to foot­baller Rus­sel Madamombe.

Chin­gawo has since been co-opted into the Mighty War­riors tech­ni­cal team as the kit as­sis­tant.

Black Rhi­nos de­fen­sive mid­fielder Man­daza will be deputised by fel­low mid­fielder Em­mac­u­late Msipa and de­fender Ru­vimbo Mutyavaviri in the new set up.

The 30-year-old is a vet­eran of many bat­tles and one of the most ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in the Zim­babwe na­tional women’s soc­cer team.

She was in ac­tion in all three group matches at the Rio Olympics Games in Au­gust while Mu­zon­gondi only started in one of the two games she played there.

Mighty War­riors coach Shadreck Mlauzi said the changes were ne­ces­si­tated by the need to take the team to the next level.

“We need a new lead­er­ship (and) again that will take us to the next level. We have given them a year in charge of the team. The pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship man­aged two qual­i­fi­ca­tions but now we need a lead­er­ship that will take us to an­other level of suc­cess we are crav­ing for as a team,” said Mlauzi.

Mu­zon­gondi leaves a le­gacy after pre­sid­ing over two qual­i­fi­ca­tions thus the Olympics Games and Africa Women Cup of Na­tions.

Dur­ing her term, she worked with two as­sis­tants Nobuhle Ma­jika and Rudo Ne­shamba.

Mu­zon­gondi’s per­for­mance in the na­tional team colours had gone down com­pared to the days when she was an in­spi­ra­tional hard­work­ing mid­fielder who helped the team lift the Cosafa Women Cham­pi­onship at Ru­faro in 2011.

Away from the dress­ing room changes, the Mighty War­riors en­tered their sec­ond day of train­ing yes­ter­day with the gaffer Mlauzi notic­ing a great im­prove­ment in their fit­ness lev­els.

“In the morn­ing ses­sion (yes­ter­day) we saw that sharp­ness com­ing back. We are hope­ful that with more ses­sions, the sharp­ness and fit­ness will fully re­turn.

“The first ses­sion was on Satur­day morn­ing then we had an­other one in the evening after watch­ing the War­riors friendly match against Zam­bia. Of course, they looked a bit rusty and their fit­ness level was not what we ex­pected.

“Their fit­ness lev­els de­pends with the qual­ity of train­ing they have been hav­ing at their re­spec­tive clubs with oth­ers re­ally strug­gling while some are bet­ter but over­all it was much bet­ter in the morn­ing ses­sion,” said Mlauzi.

The Mighty War­riors are hav­ing dou­ble ses­sions at Zesa Train­ing Cen­tre in Harare where they are also camped, mak­ing the most of lost time.

Yes­ter­day, their coach Mlauzi had a full team at his dis­posal ex­cept for mid­fielder Mavis Chi­randu who was ex­cused due to work com­mit­ments.

Mlauzi will have a bet­ter eval­u­a­tion of his play­ers be­fore the tour­na­ment starts in a game sit­u­a­tion this Thurs­day when they date neigh­bours South Africa in an international friendly match.

The match, which ini­tially was sched­uled for Bar­bour­fields in Bulawayo, has been moved by Zifa to Harare but re­mains on the same day at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium.

Zim­babwe and South Africa are the only teams from the South­ern African re­gion at the Na­tions Cup fi­nals and in the same group as hosts Cameroon and Egypt.

They get their group stages cam­paign un­der­way in Yaoundé on the open­ing day of the tour­na­ment.

Two teams from each group progress to the semi-fi­nals of the tour­na­ment which runs up to De­cem­ber 3. Group B has de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Nige­ria, Ghana, Mali and tour­na­ment debu­tants Kenya.

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