MIGHTY Warriors’ preparations for the Rio Olympic Games have hit yet another snag following the cancellation of the team’s proposed preparatory match against Sweden, raising fears that they will plunge into the Games ill-prepared. BY HENRY MHARA -NEWSDAY
The Shadreck Mlauzi-coached team only grouped for camp at Bindura University last Tuesday when other qualified teams were already in the twilight of their preparations.
South Africa, the only other African women football representative at the Games, have been in camp since last year and been touring Europe and United States of late, playing two friendly matches against 13th-ranked Netherlands last month. They play number one-ranked US in another friendly on Saturday.
In contrast, the Mighty Warriors struggled to get into camp until last week. The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, who should be taking care of the team, have ignored the responsibility, leaving the team almost stranded.
Mlauzi’s hope was for his team to play at least one warm-up match against one of the best teams from Europe or America before the start of the Games.
There were indications that the Mighty Warriors, pooled in Group F with Germany, Canada and Australia at the Rio Olympics, would play preparatory matches against Sweden and New Zealand.
However, Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa this week said the match against Sweden which had been penciled in Rio later this month, would not happen due to travel complications in Brazil.
New Zealand, who named their travelling squad last week, announced yesterday that they would not play any international match until the start of the Games.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela was quoted in the media at the weekend saying they were negotiating with two countries for friendly matches.
Zimbabwe, the lowest-ranked side of all the participants at number 93, open their campaign with a tough match against second-ranked Germany at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on August 3, two days before the opening ceremony. Kick-off is 11pm Zimbabwe time.
They then take on Canada at the same venue three days later, at 8pm Zimbabwe time, before concluding their group matches against fifth-ranked Australia at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador.
All the other Group F members except Zimbabwe have announced their travelling squad for Rio. Zimbabwe has 25 players in camp.