It was an uncertain return, but the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations’ (COSAFA) persistence to stage four events in the aftermath of the covid-19 break gave our women’s teams important game time and competitive international exposure.
The indefinite postponement of the Under-20 World Cup qualifiers and the cancellation of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) left our teams without any competitive fixtures in 2020.
By the time COSAFA invited Zimbabwe to participate in the 3-14 November games, there was virtually no women’s football being played in the country due to covid-19 restrictions on contact sport.
Be that as it may, the U17 and senior teams were called into camp when the government approved ZIFA’s request to resume training for national teams.
Technical Director Wilson Mutekede strongly believes that the tournament couldn’t have come at a better time, notwithstanding the raging pandemic.
“It was a necessary risk for us to participate in the tournament under the circumstances, especially for our Under-20 girls who needed game time and exposure at international level.
“Despite the early exit, the three games that they played were critical for the experience and the steadying of their nerves.
“I think the tournament served its purpose.
The Mighty Warriors squad composition represented a blend of youth and experience. Eight of the 18 players selected were part of the Under-20 side that was in camp in March preparing to travel to Ethiopia for a World Cup qualifier.
“The idea of roping in the Under-20s was to give them the opportunity to blend in with the senior team since they are the future,” he added.
20-year-old goalkeeper, Cynthia Shonga made her senior debut in our first group match and she went on to start all our three matches.
“Cynthia is doing well coming from the Under-20 and playing with so much confidence.
“She is definitely a player for the future, her athleticism, agility & strength.
“She has a bright future with the Mighty Warriors if she keeps working,” said Mutekede.
The ban on football meant that the association had to seek approval from the government before calling players into camp and it took a while to get the green light.
“The preparations were not adequate for the activation of necessary motor skills, but the games psychologically prepared the girls for the bigger stage.
It’s clear we need to have periodic camps for our teams across all age groups so that the players get regular quality training.
While both CAF and FFA have recently devoted considerable resources towards women’s football, dates for the U20 World cup qualifier and the AWCON have not been revealed yet.
On the local scene, women’s football clubs have not yet resumed training since lockdown in March.
Under-20 players in the Mighty Warriors squad at COSAFA 2020
Cynthia Shonga, Sharon Teterai, Moreblessing Bwende, Precious Baison, Faith Chezhara, Shyline Dambamuromo, Talent Bizeki, Dinah Banda