By Ellina Mhlanga
It’s just a few days before the Africa Women Cup of Nations kicks off in Yaounde, Cameroon, and Mighty Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi remains courageous in the face of adversity, insisting they could yet pull off some surprise despite their poor preparations.
The Women’s Nations Cup will run from December 19 to December 3.
Mlauzi’s charges are in action on the opening day when they get their campaign at the finals underway with a showdown against perennial rivals South Africa in a Group A tie.
That game will come moments after hosts Cameroon would have played Egypt in another Group A encounter.
After facing Banyana Banyana, the Mighty Warriors will then meet Egypt on November 22 before concluding their group matches against Cameroon three days later.
Ironically the Mighty Warriors got a rude awakening on the state of their preparedness when Banyana Banyana thrashed them 3-0 in an international friendly at the National Sports Stadium last Thursday.
Mlauzi said while his side was exposed in a number of areas when they lost to South Africa last Thursday, there were also some positives which they would draw from the encounter.
The tall and slim gaffer said they were now working on responses as they work on correcting their mistakes ahead of the continental showpiece in Cameroon.
“There were some concerns to the technical team on the fitness of the players. It stood out in the game against South Africa.
It’s something we are trying to service through an integrated programme where we are working on improving fitness, technique, tactical and the psychological frame of the players.
“Some players after the Egypt game went back to their clubs and the fitness really dropped to levels where you wouldn’t think it’s a national team. So starting again with a competitive match it was always going to be a tall order.
“We are trying to manage the time we have to work with quite a packed programme where we have to squeeze in training sessions and do some tests. There is quite a lot that comes with such tournaments,” said Mlauzi.
The game against Banyana Banyana was their second preparatory match, having played Egypt in September.
Interestingly Zimbabwe, Egypt and South Africa have played against each other in the warm up to the tournament with Cameroon choosing to square off against Kenya and Tanzania as part of their preparations. Group B has defending champions Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Kenya.
The top two teams from each group proceed to the semi-finals.
The Mighty Warriors coach, who has always rallied his charges despite the challenges that have continued to haunt the women’s side, including poor preparations, is fancying their chances at the Cup of Nations.
“The key really in all competitions we go into is that we want to be extremely competitive. But this time around maybe if we do well in the first two games we can get to the semi-finals and we take it from there.
“Every time we go into a competition we want to be ambitious despite the challenges we face. We want to represent our country with pride and honour.
“We are saying at the moment we have not had any major injuries, so we are happy. It’s a plus to us. It gives us a pool of players to rotate during the tournament,” Mlauzi said. Chronicle