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Zimbabwe Women's, Junior Soccer Teams Face South African Adversaries

  • Michael Kariati

Controversy brewed up this week as the Young Warriors protested a bid by the Zimbabwe Football Association to shift the All-Africa Games qualifier against South Africa to National Sports stadium from Rufaro Stadium

Zimbabwe's Mighty Warriors national women's soccer team and the Young Warriors under-23 squad both face South African rivals in key qualifiers this weekend.

The Mighty Warriors face South Africa's Banyana Banyana on Saturday in the finals of the Council of Southern African Football Associations Women's Tournament. The Young Warriors play South Africa's Amaglug Glug in an All-Africa Games qualifier Sunday.

Some controversy brewed up late in the week as the Young Warriors protested a bid by the Zimbabwe Football Association to shift the All-Africa Games final qualifier against South Africa to National Sports stadium from their home ground Rufaro Stadium.

Zifa contended that Rufaro was too small for the keenly awaited match.

But Young Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare told VOA Studio 7 reporter Michael Kariati that the team rejected the proposal because playing at the unfamiliar National Sports Stadium would be much like playing away from home.

β€œThe national sports stadium has never produced good results for Zimbabwean teams,” Mpandare said, explaining his rationale for refusing to comply with the Zifa ruling.

The Young Warriors have played all their home matches at Rufaro since the beginning of the All-Africa Games, drawing 1-1 with Zambia and defeating Botswana 4-1.

"My players are more used to Rufaro stadium,” Mpandare said.

It was not the first time that a national team refused Zifa's proposal to schedule a big game at the National Sports Stadium. The Warriors team led by Norman Mapeza last month rejected the Zifa proposal to play an African Cup of Nations qualifier there.

The game was moved to Rufaro Stadium where the Warriors prevailed 2-1.

In the current All-Africa series, the Young Warriors trail the South Africans by a two-goal margin following the first leg of the qualifying round, raising the stakes in this game which will determine who goes to Maputo, Mozambique, in September for the finals.

But Mpandare says the Young Warriors are confident as the South African juniors have not performed well in away games. "We are not worried about the deficit," he said.

Zimbabwe last played in the All-Africa games in 1995 when Harare hosted them. The Young Warriors led by coach Wieslaw Grabowski.finished second behind Egypt.

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