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THE Mighty Warriors carried hope for the nation but, after the events at Rufaro on Sunday, Zimbabwe could face a bleak international football future.The Warriors are on the backfoot after losing their Nations Cup qualifier against Tanzania and need to win at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday or face two years of isolation from the international stage.

The Mighty Warriors face an even tougher task after a shock 0-1 loss at home to Zambia in the last qualifying round of the African Women Championships.

Assistant coach, Yohannes Chikaola, says they have to put more work in their preparations for the return leg in Zambia next month.

The senior national women’s team lost 0-1 to Zambia on Sunday at Rufaro, in a surprise result, and will now have to win the away match to proceed to the AWC finals scheduled for October in Namibia.

Chikaola conceded they now have a tough task to turn the tables in their favour after failing to utilise home aantage. He indicated that Zambia were now a vastly better team compared to the side they beat 4-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the All-Africa Games qualifiers in Zambia in 2011.

Zimbabwe went to Zambia carrying a slim 1-0 victory and turned on the show to beat the Zambians 3-1 at home to qualify for the All-Africa Games that were staged in Mozambique.

“As you can see our girls were down and out. It’s an uphill task we need to work harder, we need to work on their physical and mental strength so that we can overturn the results in our favour.

“We were just starting as Mighty Warriors (in 2011) but the girls were upbeat because of the league which was going on well.

“So their match fitness was high and they managed to turn the tables but now we need to work on their fitness so that we can match the Zambians and pounce on them in their backyard.

“They have greatly improved and they are very serious too and you can see there are four guys on their technical team. I saw them working at their last training session, they are good at set pieces and their movement forward is dangerous especially their number 11 (Kabange Mupopo),” said Chikaola.

The Mighty Warriors assistant coach said they need to work on their midfield and strike force ahead of the game.

“We need to work on the midfield, especially their ability to close gaps. It’s only their number 11 who is the main problem. So we just shut down their number 11 and play our normal game in midfield,” said Chikaola.

Zimbabwe Women Football boss, Miriam Sibanda, hailed the girls despite the loss saying Sunday’s defeat was because of the absence of a competitive league to keep the players active.

“This was not our day, the girls played very well but were just unlucky not to score. We accept football has three results, a win, a loss and a draw and we lost but not because the girls were not playing well or were not trying.

“They did everything that they could and the goals just didn’t come. And I think we also want to take into account the fact that the head coach was not there. She is in mourning, she lost her brother.

“So that should have had a bearing on the result but not to take away the fact that these girls, which is one of the things we have been talking about, have not had sufficient competitive game time.

“The way they played shows they put everything into it but they came up against girls who are playing regularly,” said Sibanda. The league is expected to kick off next month but there is also the NetOne knockout tournament finals which appear to have been shelved.

Source : The Herald