Shelly Guni in Port Elizabeth, SOUTH AFRICA
…Banyana Banyana clash looms
MIGHTY Warriors coach Sithethelelwe ‘Kwinji 15’ Sibanda expects her players to rise to the occasion when they face defending champions and hosts South Africa in a Cosafa Women’s Championship semifinal showdown at Isaac Wolfson Stadium tomorrow.
Sibanda’s charges booked their place in the semifinals after accumulating nine points following convincing victories over Angola (4-1), Mozambique (4-0) and Eswatini (7-0) to finish as Group C winners.
The Mighty Warriors are bidding for their first Cosafa Women’s Championship title since 2011 when they beat Banyana Banyana 1-0 in the final. Since then Zimbabwe have played second fiddle to South Africa who went on to win the 2017 edition and last year’s.
In fact, in the tournament’s six-year history, South Africa has won the title five times with Zimbabwe crowned champions once.
And as they prepare for another titanic battle against Banyana Banyana tomorrow, Sibanda appears relaxed while encouraged by her team’s great strides they have made since arriving here a week ago for the regional tournament.
“We are meeting the hosts and defending champions but I’m sure with the attitude and the improvement shown by the players in all the matches we have played so far, I think it’s going to be a 50-50 situation,” Sibanda said.
“I’m impressed especially when a team shows improvement obviously as a coach you are happy and you appreciate the efforts that the players have put in to get where we are.
“When we started this tournament our worry really was on our physical fitness whether we were going to match our opponents given the limited time we had in preparing. Our match fitness looking at the duration and the last time we participated in an international competition was last year’s Cosafa.
“With the matches we have played so far I can safely say we are no longer the same when we arrived and I expect the girls to even rise to the occasion when we face South Africa on Thursday.”
The Mighty Warriors are chasing a second Cosafa title and Sibanda feels it will all be down to mental preparedness.
“It’s all about psyching the players to look at their abilities versus the South Africans and not to concentrate on the history.
They just need to take that it’s the next game in a semi-final like we have been playing any other team and that’s how we are going to play and give it our best,” she said.
“It’s all about psychological preparedness.”
There is no doubt Sibanda, will obviously be looking forward to midfielder Emmaculate Msipa to continue with her rich vein of form which saw her sit at the top of the goalscorers charts with six goals after three matches.
Rudo Neshamba is also enjoying a great tournament and has since scored five times while Mavis Chirandu, Shiela Makoto and Marjoury Nyaumwe among others have also been consistent thus far for the Mighty Warriors.