HARARE – Mighty Warriors coach Sithetheliwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda has admitted qualifying for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will be tough after her side made defensive mistakes that cost them the game against Botswana at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Botswana won the game 3-1.
The hosts, clearly unfit, gave Botswana a few clean passes in this first leg of the final qualifying round.
The Mares took the lead in the 47th minute when striker Refiliwe Tholakele caught the Zimbabwean defense taking a siesta and Lesego Radiakanyo, the two-time scorer, added to his tally in the 77th minute.
Black Rhinos Queens midfielder Privilege Mupeti equalized for the hosts with five minutes remaining.
She was on the pitch just three minutes after replacing striker Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore.
But Zimbabwe’s hopes of a comeback were dashed when Radiakanyo returned for their second goal, firing into an empty net after a pass exchange.
Zimbabwe are due to deepen the second half of the season at Francistown next Wednesday.
However, Sibanda remained optimistic despite the loss.
“Botswana came here and scored three goals; with the right attitude, we can always go out and piss them off at home. Of course it will be a big challenge and we really need a lot of mental fitness from the players,” she said.
Sibanda said they made some mistakes, including some fatal mistakes in defence.
“It was a very intense game, I would say, and very physical, because I hinted earlier that we were playing against a much more fit team.
“They put their physical presence at stake. I think the mistake we made was that the players tried to absorb the pressure, but when we absorbed the pressure we then played to their strengths, which was on the long ball.
“Every time we tried to spin him we did a lot better than if we were pumping the ball. So overall it was a very intense game, a good game and we could have used our chances better.
“But I have to say that defensive mistakes cost us the game. Such goalkeeping and defensive mistakes are unacceptable at this level. This is football, we go from here,” Sibanda said.
The winner qualifies for the women’s version of the Africa Cup of Nations, which will be played in Morocco in July.
- Herald Zimbabwe