By Grace Chingoma
Spare a thought for our Young Mighty Warriors.
The national Under-17 women’s national team crashed to a humiliating defeat yesterday when they were hammered by hosts South Africa in their first Cosafa Championships match at The Oval in Port Elizabeth.
The inexperienced, ill-prepared Young Mighty Warriors side crumbled like a deck of cards in the second half, conceding six goals.
It was baptism of fire for the team, playing in their first regional tournament.
They missed the inaugural tournament last year.
The woes continued for Zimbabwe’s developmental side which, earlier this year, suffered a 0-5 drubbing at the hands of Botswana in Gaborone in a World Cup qualifier.
Concern has been rising, on the domestic football scene, that women’s football is not being given the respect, and attention, which it badly needs.
Although women’s football was specifically handed US$500 000 by Fifa, to help it cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is very little to show it’s a sector which received such a windfall.
While the Zifa board could be commended for sending the team into battle as part of their masterplan to expose the players to the challenges of the game at this level, such a hiding is a humiliation.
There is even a feeling, within some quarters in the local game, that women’s football now lacks the kind of dynamic leadership which propelled the Mighty Warriors to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
They became the first Zimbabwean national football team to reach the Olympics but, since then, things have been going downhill for women’s football in this country.
And, as they say, the results don’t lie.
A 0-12 aggregate loss, in two matches against South Africa and Botswana, paints a very sorry picture of the state of women’s football in this country.
South Africa skipper, Jessica Wade, gave the hosts the lead in the 37th minute when she fired home.
The Bantwana captain completed her hat-trick in the second minute of time and added on as the hosts went on a rampage.
Nabeelah Galant, Jade Leask, Oyisa Marhasi and Tyler Scott also found the back of the net, with goals in the 63rd minute, 75th minute and 87th minute.
The hosts bounced back to winning ways after losing their opening against Zambia 1-2 on Wednesday.
The top two teams from the round robin progress to the finals.
The Young Mighty Warriors’ next match is tomorrow against Comoros, who lost 1-5 to Tanzania.
Zimbabwe then engage Tanzania and Zambia to complete their round of matches at the junior tournament.
The tourney is running concurrently with the senior teams at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth.
The Mighty Warriors also lost their first group match against Tanzania 1-0 on Wednesday.
They meet Botswana on Monday in their last group match.
They are hoping to win the match convincingly and hope other group results go in their favour for them to progress as the best runners-up of the three groups.
Poor preparation, and little time to camp, has been cited by coaches and other pundits as the reason for the way the local women’s national teams have become punching bags of late. The Chronicle