Mighty War­riors urged to fo­cus on Cameroon

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Grace Chin­goma in YAOUNDE, Cameroon

MIGHTY War­riors coach Shadreck Mlauzi has en­cour­aged his play­ers to pick them­selves up from the dis­ap­point­ment of their ques­tion­able de­feat to Egypt and fight for their lives against Cameroon at the Africa Women’s Cup of Na­tions un­der­way here.

Mlauzi’s troops crashed 0-1 in con­tro­ver­sial fashion on Tues­day night and now have the tall or­der against a Cameroon side backed by a huge crowd in their back­yard who have al­ready qual­i­fied for the semi-fi­nals. Kick-off is 5PM Zim­babwe time. Mlauzi yes­ter­day said his team still has ev­ery­thing to play for and they have to be­lieve in them­selves.

“We still have ev­ery­thing to play for in the last match,” said Mlauzi. It is go­ing to be a tall or­der, the guys are re­ally dis­ap­pointed with the loss but it’s part of the game. We have to pick our­selves be­cause we are play­ing against the hosts, a very dif­fi­cult game that we will play.

“We re­main pos­i­tive. We qual­i­fied for the Olympics against all the odds against the same team, so we have to re­main pos­i­tive with in­ner be­lief.”

Zim­babwe and South Africa have one point each while Egypt are sec­ond with three points. If Egypt beat B a ny a ny a B any ana , the Mighty War r iors w i l l crash out ir­re­spec­tive of their resu lt against Cameroon.

South Africa can also qual­ify by beat­ing Egypt while hop­ing that the Mighty War­riors fail to win their game.

“We still feel that we will go and get a pos­i­tive result. So, at the mo­ment, we will try to put the best pos­si­ble team that will give us the best result,” he said.

The coach is rac­ing against time to have his skip­per, Tal­ent Man­daza, fit be­fore the game af­ter pick­ing up an in­jury in the match against Egypt.

Mlauzi made sig­nif­i­cant changes in Tues­day’s game, start­ing with four play­ers who did not start in the opener against South Africa.

Mlauzi dropped mid­field­ers Felis­tas Mu­zon­gondi, Em­mac­u­late Msipa and de­fend­ers Sheila Makoto and Nobukhosi Ncube and threw into the fray new de­fend­ers on the flanks — Eu­nice Chibanda and Ru­vimbo Mutyavaviri — as well as mid­field­ers Mavis Chi­randu and Aldigrade Bhamu.

"In coach­ing, you just don't look at one game in iso­la­tion, you look at all the games holis­ti­cally looking at short and medium terms.

"So, at the back of our minds, squad ro­ta­tion be­comes im­por­tant in a tour­na­ment and that is the rea­son why we bring 21 play­ers, if you don't do that, the team suf­fers ex­haus­tion.

"We saw it at the Olympics. But had we kept the core of the team that played against South Africa, there was a pos­si­bil­ity the guys could have been worn out.

“You know the na­ture of our phys­i­cal con­di­tion, these play­ers took us one week to work with them and then we came into the tour­na­ment. So we were not at the best com­ing here."

Mlauzi wel­comed the move by Zifa to lodge a com­plaint to Caf over bi­ased of­fi­ci­at­ing in their match against Egypt on Tues­day.

Mlauzi said while the com­plaint will not help their cause, it was good for future ref­er­ence.

"ln as much as it is not go­ing to change our fi­nal log stand­ings, all the same it’s im­por­tant for future ref­er­ences so that we are not treated as out­casts, as a foot­ball na­tion, be­cause we are still an emerg­ing na­tion in terms of foot­ball, so we need to be treated equally just like other teams," said Mlauzi.

Cameroon coach Enow Nga­cho said he will field his strong­est pos­si­ble side.

"The South African match was a very dif­fi­cult game and we are happy we were able to win and qual­ify," said Nga­cho. We will watch the match of our op­po­nents and see how they play.

"Now that we have qual­i­fied, the most im­por­tant thing is to win our semi-fi­nal and for us to reach the fi­nal, we have to win all the games.”

Shadreck Mlauzi

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