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MIGHTY WARRIORS TARGET QUARTER FINAL BERTH

MIGHTY Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi believes his team has a good chance to make an impression at the Rio Olympics, which run from August 05 to 21, despite their shambolic preparations for the tournament. BY HENRY MHARA

The women’s national football team, who are in Group F together with Germany, Australia and Canada, only went into camp three weeks ago and have only one friendly match lined up against China before the start of the Games.

Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa, who yesterday visited the team at Bindura University of Science Education, where they are camped, revealed the team had secured a preparatory match against China on July 29.

Chiyangwa, who was in the company of Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, said he was also negotiating with Sweden and New Zealand, although the two teams had since indicated that they would not play any friendly match.

However, while admitting that the preparations were not ideal, Mlauzi reckoned his team would pull a surprise in Rio.

“We are still fine-tuning. We are yet to play friendly matches. So we can’t really say we are happy with the preparations,” he said.

“One friendly won’t be enough, so we will be forced to juggle and change our combinations during the course of the tournament, which is not ideal in a competition of this magnitude. We would have wanted to play more friendly games even against other African countries, as long as it was an international match. There is nothing much we can do though because of lack of resources, but never rule us out.”

Mlauzi said despite that setback, they could not be underestimated.

“Just like what happened in the final qualifier of this competition against Cameroon, we trained for just three days for that game and no one gave us a chance, but we managed to qualify. People should not rule us out because we will shock the world.”

Mlauzi, who said the team had been emphasising more on improving the physical aspect of the players, is aiming at reaching the quarter-finals.

“We would want to have a maximum of five players to get contracts in Europe and in the United States leagues. We are also targeting a place in the quarter-finals,” he said.

“We want to go there and represent the nation well. We want to enjoy the experience, this is a different level of competition altogether. The players are responding well to the training and physical fitness is improving, so we can only get better.”

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