YOUNG Warriors coach, Mandla Mpofu hopes the huge amount of top-flight football experience in his squad will spur Zimbabwe to glory in the PPC Cosafa Under-20 Championships that get underway in South Africa today. BY FORTUNE MBELE
The Young Warriors face Zambia today before taking on Malawi on Friday at Moruleng Stadium, 60km from Rustenburg in the North-West Province of South Africa.
Speaking from Rustenburg yesterday morning, Mpofu said the technical team had done its best in the little time they had to prepare for the tournament and it was now left to the players.
“We tried to come up with the best squad and 75% of the players played in the 2016 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) season and hopefully they will use that experience to come out with positive results here,” he said.
“It’s their tournament and, as coaches, we have done what we could in the seven days of preparations. At times, it’s useless to complain, although we appeal for improvement in future. We have put in our 5% and 95% comes from the boys to produce the results. Ours is now to encourage and motivate.”
Mpofu is pinning his hopes on Highlanders striker Prince Dube (pictured), the PSL Rookie of the Year, alongside the Harare City trio of Dexter Mawere, Learnmore Muyambo and Jerry Chipangura.
Also in the squad is Tsholotsho FC forward, Blessing Sibanda and Patrick Musaka, who plays for Black Leopards in South Africa.
Ngezi Platinum Stars goalkeeper, Nelson Chadya, Dynamos striker, King Nasama, Chicken Inn’s Amos Ncube and Bright Majamanda of Mutare City are also part of the team that travelled to South Africa and carry the hopes of the nation.
Zifa Southern Region Division One champions Bantu Rovers’ skipper, Bukhosi Sibanda is also part of the squad, while his teammate at Tshintsha Guluva, Denzel Khumalo travelled with the African Union Sports Council Under-20 Youth Games Zimbabwe team to Angola.
“The boys must rise to the occasion and do it for themselves.
Training grounds have been a problem and the match venue is being prepared for the games, but we are hoping to get a session today (yesterday). We play Zambia tomorrow (today) and I think it is going to be great game. Zambia are a big side, who have won this tournament before.
But I guess we are ready to make sure we come up with positive results. Morale is high and everyone is raring to go,” Mpofu said.
In the last edition held in Lesotho in 2013, Zimbabwe fell at the semi-final stage.