DESPITE having to work on short notice and with players literally hand-picked, Young Warriors coach Tafadzwa Mashiri is working round the clock to make the most of the situation he finds himself in.
The Young Warriors are preparing for the Cosafa Men’s Under-17 Championships at Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa from November 19-30.
Cosafa and the Confederation of African Football are using the championships as the zonal qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco in July.
Two finalists from the regional tournament will book a place at the continental youth tournament.
Despite most of the players that trooped into camp ahead of the tournament having been inactive for a year, Mashiri is confident of springing a surprise at the championships.
He said the significance of the tourney could not be overemphasised.
“We cannot deny the fact that inactivity has a negative impact on players, but looking at a bigger picture these championships are very important considering what is at stake,” said Mashiri.
Zimbabwe together with the other eight teams who include Angola, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini, Malawi, last year’s runners-up Mozambique, South Africa and defending champions Zambia, have confirmed their participation.
The Young Warriors are grouped together with Angola, Eswatini and the hosts South Africa and although he is aware of the uphill task he faces, Mashiri is hoping his squad can emulate past Under-17 sides.
Angola were Southern Africa’s representatives in the 2019 Caf Under-17 Cup of Nations after winning the Cosafa competition that year, the first time the zonal qualifiers were introduced.
“We will be facing Eswatini, South Africa and Angola, this is not an easy group but we have to be at our best.
“We have done so well in the past at the same tournament and we hope to carry on with that same form and attitude at the tournament,” said Mashiri.
It will be all action too for the Under-20 side whose championships will get underway early next month.
The CosafaMen’s Under-20 Championships is scheduled for December 3-13, three days after the conclusion of the Under-17 championships.-The Sunday News