The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
LONG time women’s soccer benefactor, Lewis Muzhara has dangled a carrot for the national Under-17 girls’ team to overturn the 5-0 drubbing they received in Botswana in a preliminary 2020 Fifa World Cup qualifier last week.
Muzhara promised each player $1 000 if they manage to win the second leg and qualify for the next round.
The businessman said he believed with the right mindset and incentives it will not be a tough task for the girls to overcome Botswana in the return match scheduled for Bulawayo at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
“Yes, we lost in Botswana and by what seems to be a huge margin but there is still an opportunity for us to turn the tide around and win the qualifier. At this level I believe once the girls score a goal they can get back into the match. Preparations should be adequate to ensure they perform at their best. With little travelling I think the mission can be completed. I will deposit $1 000 into each player’s account if they win the match,” he said.
Muzhara, who has over the past years extended financial support to local female football, said it is critical to focus on the women’s game at a lower level to ensure focus and creation of future stars.
“We need to motivate the girls at this stage as I believe it is now critical that we focus on the grassroots as we need a young crop of players that will shine at the highest level. There has been a stagnation in the grassroots development of women’s soccer and playing World Cup qualifiers at a tender age will prove beneficial experience as they grow and be recruited into the ranks of the senior Mighty Warriors,” said the director of LM Auctioneers.
Muzhara has been the Mighty Warriors’ all-weather friend providing them with incentives on several occasions that include buying new football boots for every member of the squad that took part at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a $4 000 windfall after the Mighty Warriors made it into the final of the 2017 Women’s Cosafa Championships and also once bankrolled the LM Auctioneers Cup, a football tournament that involved the country’s top flight women teams.
Young Mighty Warriors coach, Garthly Chipuka called for adequate preparations ahead of crucial qualifier next weekend.
Speaking to our sister paper, Chronicle, Chipuka said they still have a chance to overturn the result.
“When going into big games such as this one, preparation has to be on point.
“The Botswana team had been in camp for some time. Despite the loss the girls played well, but as you know football is all about scoring and getting the result. One is not rewarded for playing well. We will give it our best shot in the return leg.
‘‘We have not thrown in the towel, we will do our best in the return leg to get a positive result,” he was quoted saying.
If Zimbabwe qualifier, they face either Morocco or Djibouti, the former having won the first leg of the preliminary round 7-0.
The 2020 Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled for India, will be the seventh edition, with Africa having three qualifying berths.
The biennial international women’s youth football championship will run from 2 to 21 November.