Mlauzi re­mains up­beat

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa

IT’S just a few days be­fore the Africa Women Cup of Na­tions kicks off in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and Mighty War­riors coach Shadreck Mlauzi re­mains coura­geous in the face of ad­ver­sity, in­sist­ing they could yet pull off some sur­prise de­spite their poor prepa­ra­tions.

The Women’s Na­tions Cup will run from De­cem­ber 19 to De­cem­ber 3.

Mlauzi’s charges are in ac­tion on the open­ing day when they get their cam­paign at the fi­nals un­der­way with a show­down against peren­nial ri­vals South Africa in a Group A tie.

That game will come mo­ments after hosts Cameroon would have played Egypt in an­other Group A en­counter.

After fac­ing Banyana Banyana, the Mighty War­riors will then meet Egypt on Novem­ber 22 be­fore con­clud­ing their group matches against Cameroon three days later.

Iron­i­cally the Mighty War­riors got a rude awak­en­ing on the state of their pre­pared­ness when Banyana Banyana thrashed them 3-0 in an in­ter­na­tional friendly at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium last Thurs­day.

Mlauzi said while his side was ex­posed in a num­ber of ar­eas when they lost to South Africa last Thurs­day, there were also some pos­i­tives which they would draw from the en­counter.

The tall and slim gaffer said they were now work­ing on re­sponses as they work on cor­rect­ing their mis­takes ahead of the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece in Cameroon.

“There were some con­cerns to the tech­ni­cal team on the fit­ness of the play­ers. It stood out in the game against South Africa. It’s some­thing we are try­ing to ser­vice through an in­te­grated pro­gramme where we are work­ing on im­prov­ing fit­ness, tech­nique, tac­ti­cal and the psy­cho­log­i­cal frame of the play­ers.

“Some play­ers after the Egypt game went back to their clubs and the fit­ness really dropped to levels where you wouldn’t think it’s a na­tional team. So start­ing again with a com­pet­i­tive match it was al­ways go­ing to be a tall or­der.

“We are try­ing to man­age the time we have to work with quite a packed pro­gramme where we have to squeeze in train­ing ses­sions and do some tests. There is quite a lot that comes with such tour­na­ments,” said Mlauzi.

The game against Banyana Banyana was their sec­ond prepara­tory match, hav­ing played Egypt in Septem­ber.

In­ter­est­ingly Zim­babwe, Egypt and South Africa have played against each other in the warm up to the tour­na­ment with Cameroon choos­ing to square off against Kenya and Tan­za­nia as part of their prepa­ra­tions.

Group B has de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Nige­ria, Ghana, Mali and Kenya. The top two teams from each group pro­ceed to the semi-fi­nals.

The Mighty War­riors coach, who has al­ways ral­lied his charges de­spite the chal­lenges that have con­tin­ued to haunt the women’s side, in­clud­ing poor prepa­ra­tions, is fan­cy­ing their chances at the Cup of Na­tions.

“The key really in all com­pe­ti­tions we go into is that we want to be ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive. But this time around maybe if we do well in the first two games we can get to the semi-fi­nals and we take it from there. “Ev­ery time we go into a com­pe­ti­tion we want to be am­bi­tious de­spite the chal­lenges we face. We want to rep­re­sent our coun­try with pride and hon­our.

“We are say­ing at the mo­ment we have not had any ma­jor in­juries, so we are happy. It’s a plus to us. It gives us a pool of play­ers to ro­tate dur­ing the tour­na­ment,” Mlauzi said.

Shadreck Mlauzi

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