Rude awakening for Mighty Warriors
Zimbabwe 0 - 3 South Africa THE Mighty Warriors got a reality check nine days before their first match against South Africa in the Africa Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon when they were outclassed in all aspects by the same opponent in a friendly match at National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The hosts stood no chance with their neighbours who were better prepared and conditioned in this practice match.
However, Zimbabwe women’s soccer team coach Shadreck Mlauzi said he will not read much into the practice match considering that he did not field his strongest squad.
Mlauzi rested key midfielder Marjoury Nyaumwe while other regular players like midfielder and vice skipper Emma Msipa, strikers Rutendo Makore and Kuda Basopo and defenders Eunice Chibanda and Sheila Makoto only came in the second period.
“Tactically, I think we were not spot on today. We tried to fuse experienced and inexperienced guys and at the end of the day, the inexperienced guys did not give us what we want and we felt that in our tactical organisation today (yesterday), we were rather too lose. Our team shape was too open so at the end of the day these are the things we need to work on.
“Of course, we did not start with our best possible starting 11, so we will not read too much into it as we are going to work on it.
“The approach will definitely change. Most of the times we have played with a 4-3-2-1 formation, today we tried to work on a rather 4-4- 2-1 formation,” he said.
The team could not even get some motivation from the Warriors who were also part of the paltry crowd which watched the match.
The team were a shadow of the Mighty Warriors who always compete whenever they engage their neighbours. The coach conceded he still had a lot work to do before the first match in Yaounde on November 19.
“We were up against a team that is tactically well disciplined, very good on and off the runs but at the same time it is important that we work on these areas against such a good team and defensively, we need to be a little better in terms of our offensive patterns as well, that is where we really fell short.
“Our attacks’ easily broke down because of the tactical defensive discipline of the opposition. So these are the areas that we need to work on.
“Again you could see the difference in terms of fitness, our girls were quite far off against a team that has been preparing for quite some time.
“We will try our best. These are the conditions that we have had to work under.
“So we will try to, in the remaining few days left, try to do integrate training sessions, work on fitness and at the same time work on technical and tactical aspects,” said Mlauzi.
Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana grabbed a brace as the heavens opened up soaking the players the better part of the second half.
The forward, who was troubling Zimbabwe’s defence scored after 15 minutes before she returned to haunt the hosts defence 10 minutes after restart.
South Africa winger Leandra Smeda inflicted more pain when she beat goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai who had come off the line.
But Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said the victory means nothing.
“This game means nothing, it is ended. We know what is going to happen at the Africa Women Cup of Nations, it is going to be a completely different game but we just need to prepare better,” she said.
Just like Zimbabwe, South Africa were playing their second friendly match since returning from Rio in August.
Coincidentally, they also played Egypt in a practice match in Johannesburg barely two weeks ago.
The Mighty Warriors were also involved with the North Africans here in September. Egypt and hosts Cameroon complete Group A which has the two southern region teams.
“We use this as preparation because this is only our second match since the Olympics and we have only been in camp since the 16th of October for one week, and then we came in on the 7th of November but there has been an improvement and hopefully we can even improve even more by the time we get to the Africa Women Cup of Nations.
“Our first training was the 16th of October and we were a bit concerned but we have been working very hard with our conditioning,” said Ellis.
Mighty Warriors skipper Talent Mandaza and Banyana Banyana striker Octavia Nogwanya battle for the ball in a friendly at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday, while Nobuhle Majika and Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri (right) look on