The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
PAMUSHANA High School coach, Bernard Matenga feels that the draw for this year’s COPA Coca-Cola is reasonable after the defending champions were drawn to play against champions of Mashonaland East as well as the winner from Midlands.
The draw conducted during the official launch of this year’s tournament at Pamushana will see the boys from Masvingo’s Bikita district clash with whoever comes out on top from Mashonaland East and Midlands at this year’s national finals to be staged from 11 to 13 July in Mashonaland West.
“The draw is fair, obviously transparent but my feeling (is that) group D is a group of death, we are basing on the fact that Mash East had Rusununguko which is actually the previous winner before us and Midlands, hopefully there is Guinea Fowl which we played in the final last year. Group D is a difficult group but being difficult does not mean it is difficult for Pamushana, it is difficult for everybody,’’ Matenga said.
He feels that the fact that they are already aware in which group they are in while their opponents are yet to be decided gives them an advantage over whoever they will face.
“We have an edge over other teams because we know already that we are in group D because they don’t know if they are coming or they are not coming. Probably there will be surprises after their provincial tournaments, now that we know we are in group D, we are preparing hard to make sure that we try to sail through to the next stage of the tournament,’’ he said.
With the tournament now for those 15 years and under as opposed to the Under-15, Matenga sees that as an opportunity to successfully defend the title they won in 2018. He is well aware that they have to up their game this year in order to be crowned champions again.
“The fact that we are there and that we are maintaining almost the same age group, I think we have a better chance of defending but obviously knowing well that every team that plays the defending champions will try to raise the spirits and the standards, we have to be at our best to make sure that we defend that trophy.”
In terms of preparations, Matenga gave indications that they have played against academies from Harare as well as Mutare as they gear up for the national event likely to take place in Kadoma.
“We have been playing academies, we have been to Harare, played the DZ Academy, we have been to Mutare playing some academies, I think we are trying to line up some more friendly matches as we prepare the team. We are keeping more or less the same team,’’ he said.
Pamushana defeated Guinea Fowl 2-0 in last year’s final played at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.
COPA Coca-Cola national finals full draw
Boys: Group A: Matabeleland South, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West
Group B: Masvingo, Manicaland, Harare
Group C: Host school, Matabeleland North, Bulawayo
Group D: Pamushana, Mashonaland East, Midlands
Group A: Mashonaland West, Midlands, Matabeleland South
Group B: Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East
Group C: Host school, Bulawayo, Harare
Group D: Masvingo, Nyamauru, Matabeleland North