Mighty War­riors off to Yaounde

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa

MIGHTY War­riors’ sea­soned striker Ru­tendo Makore is con­vinced they will leave a mark at the Africa Women Cup of Na­tions start­ing this week­end in Cameroon.

The se­nior women side left the coun­try yes­ter­day for the tournament which starts on Satur­day and runs un­til December 3 in Yaoundé and Limbe.

Zim­babwe will be in ac­tion against South Africa on the open­ing day of the com­pe­ti­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, both teams were at the Olympic Games in Brazil last Au­gust rep­re­sent­ing the con­ti­nent.

Speak­ing just be­fore the team’s de­par­ture for Cameroon at the Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Makore, who was part of the Olympics side, said they will not be in­tim­i­dated when they face South Africa, Egypt and Cameroon in Group A.

“I think all the teams are good, es­pe­cially the Cameroon side. They are good and they are used to play­ing big teams but we are also the best. We were in Rio for the Olympics where we played Canada, Ger­many and Aus­tralia and the fact that we man­aged to score against them means some­thing.

“So I think the ex­pe­ri­ence will help us be­cause we learnt a lot,” said Makore.

The 24-year-old said hav­ing been to a big­ger stage than the Africa Cup of Na­tions such as the Olympics they are hop­ing for the best.

“What I can say is the tournament we are go­ing for now is dif­fer­ent from the one in Rio. I think the com­pe­ti­tion lev­els are also dif­fer­ent this time around as we all stand equal chances.

“We have played South Africa be­fore. We played them some­time back and at some point we used to beat them but the last two friendly games they have been beat­ing us. How­ever, I think we still have equal chances go­ing into this tournament and they know it,” said Makore.

The team’s coach, Shadreck Mlauzi, said they are look­ing for­ward to the tournament.

“I think un­der the cir­cum­stances we have done the best we could as a team. So we now look for­ward to the tournament and see how it goes. Other than that, re­ally we are happy with the man­ner in which the girls have re­sponded to train­ing,” Mlauzi said.

The Mighty War­riors gaffer pointed out that it is cru­cial that they do well in the open­ing en­counter against Banyana Banyana on Satur­day.

“It’s al­ways im­por­tant… the first game de­cides our destiny. So it is al­ways im­por­tant as we go into the first game that we do well. So we have re­ally stud­ied the op­po­si­tion, we have tried to work on the mis­takes that we have made over the last two games.

“We haven’t looked at the game at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium in iso­la­tion, we have also re­viewed the game that we played at Makhu­long Sta­dium in South Africa in May. So we have tried to work on the weak­nesses and strengths as a team. So I think it should work out come Satur­day,” said Mlauzi.

Af­ter Satur­day’s clash with South Africa, Zim­babwe will then take on Egypt three days later and con­clude the group games against Cameroon on Novem­ber 25.

Zim­babwe will be mak­ing their fourth ap­pear­ance at the tournament hav­ing com­peted in 2000 when they fin­ished fourth. They re­turned to the event in 2002 and 2004 but lost in group stages.

The cur­rent crop of play­ers will be hop­ing to write their own piece of history at the con­ti­nen­tal tournament de­spite fac­ing chal­lenges, in­clud­ing poor prepa­ra­tions, that have con­tin­ued to be an ob­sta­cle in their ef­forts.

The Mighty War­riors at the Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port on their way to Yaounde, Cameroon.

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