Copa Coca-Cola teams confident
ZIMBABWE’S Copa Coca-Cola Under15 boys and girls’ teams are optimistic of making an impression when they battle with other countries from the continent at the inaugural Africa Cup in Nakuru, Kenya.
The teams made up of 16 players each were selected during the national finals held in July in Zvishavane.
The boys will battle it out with 11 other countries - Angola, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and hosts Kenya in the inaugural Copa CocaCola Africa Cup - while the girls will play Kenya as they will be the only two girls’ teams to participate at the tournament.
The girls team was set to fly out last night, while the boys are scheduled to leave today for the tournament running until next Saturday.
In the boys’ section, the 12 countries were divided into four pools of three and Zimbabwe were drawn in Pool A together with Mozambique and Uganda.
Pamushana’s coach Bernard Matenga is in charge of the boys’ team, while Sisasenkosi Mapungwana of Mpopoma is leading the girls’ side.
Speaking on the sidelines of a send-off ceremony at Prince Edward School in Harare yesterday, Matenga said he has a formidable team that can deliver.
“I think it’s our first experience, but as a coach we expect to bring the cup back. We are expecting to win. As the boys enjoy, we also expect to win games,” said Matenga.
Zimbabwe will take on Mozambique in their first game on Monday and Matenga says it’s the crucial game in setting the tone for the rest of the tournament.
“In a group of three, you can’t take chances. The first game is actually the most important one. If you win one game in a group of three you would have qualified for quarter-finals. So I think the first game is much more important.
“I have a very good crop of players. I think we will sail through. I have confidence in the boys,” said Matenga.
Pool B consists of the Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia, while Angola, South Africa and Ethiopia are in Pool C.
Hosts Kenya face Tanzania and Botswana in Pool D. The top two countries from the four pools proceed to the quarter-finals. For the girls, coach Mapungwana said this is an opportunity to learn and promote the participation of girls in the world’s beautiful game.
“This is a springboard for our girls. We discover that in our communities, girls’ soccer is stigmatised, but the fact that Copa Coca-Cola has given us this opportunity to expose, to discover ourselves as girls, something good is going to come out of these girls,” said Mapungwana.
Zimbabwe are the pioneers of the Copa Coca-Cola tournament and it’s now played in more than 60 countries across the globe.
Locally, it has become the country’s biggest schools football tournament and one of the most important events on the schools’ sports calendar.
Several players have come through this tournament since its inception in 1989, including former Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu, Khama Billiat, Justice Majabvi and Artwell Mukandi among others.
Coca-Cola senior brand manager Vee Chibanda said they were committed to the development of football from grassroots.
“As the Coca-Cola Company, it is our responsibility to give back to the community and through Copa Coca-Cola we realise that the future lies in the youths that are growing, in the children that are growing and we realise that football is a platform that is universal. It’s a language that is spoken by almost everyone in this world. Our mandate is to assist boys and girls like you who have a passion, who have a talent. We will continue to help and assist those who want to grow in soccer,” Chibanda said.
National Association of Secondary Schools Heads head-in-charge of football Albert Mucheka said they are grateful for the continued support they have been receiving from Coca-Cola over the years.
Bradley Archie Kanyangu, Keith Muzengeza, Royce Tanaka Muhone, Emmanuel Richard, Alvin Dube, Trymore Kawerere, Junior Makunike, Elevate Maseko, Tafadzwa Mamboma, Owami Moyo, Munashe Hungwe, Denzel Nduna Chikwanda, Tapiwa Tagarika, Enasio Perezo, Michael Saharo, Nokutenda Mangezi.
Bethel Kondo, Thando Sibanda, Priscillah Markus, Nomqhele Thwala, Nosipho Dube, Rufaro Maphosa, Ruvimbo Yolanda Nyambo, Laiza Dakacha, Aaliyah Utumbe, Emaculate Zulu, Tendai Museza, Memory Mbira, Tanaka Mbefere, Lindiwe Kholeka Ndlovu, Shantell Simphiwe Siziba, Sharon Dadisai Dangirwa.
Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda. Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia. Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia. Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN . . . Zimbabwe’s Under-15 girls Copa Coca-Cola team pose for a picture with Coca-Cola senior brand manager Vee Chibanda (right) and Delta Beverages channel execution manager Ntando Sibanda (far left) during yesterday’s send-off ceremony at Prince Edward School