Copa Coca-Cola teams con­fi­dent

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa Sports Re­porter

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

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