ZIM U-20 COACH NDLOVU OPTIMISTIC
As preparations for the COSAFA Under-20 Championships gather momentum, Zimbabwe coach Bekithemba Ndlovu believes the six-time champions stand a good chance to end a trophy-less decade by playing competitively when this year’s edition gets underway in Zambia on Wednesday.
The regional tournament will run in Kitwe at Nkana, Arthur Davies and the iconic Levy Mwanawasa stadiums from December 6 to 16.
The Young Warriors are the second most successful team at the regional tournament having won the Cup six times while Zambia, have claimed it a record 11 times.
South Africa have won the Cup five times and island nation Madagascar once.
But the Young Warriors have not done well in recent COSAFA youth tournaments since they beat hosts South Africa 0-3 back then in 2007.
Ndlovu, who is guiding the team for the first time, will announce his final team today.
The Young Warriors are expected to leave for Zambia tomorrow.
Ndlovu, who is Kelvin Kaindu’s assistant at How Mine, says inasmuch as it is about developing the player, the focus is also about winning matches.
So far, Ndlovu says he has been impressed by the work being put in by his troops.
“For the days we have been working, we have managed to establish a good team which can stand in Zambia. We have been doing tactical work, they are adapting well to the philosophy and how we want them to play.
“Going to the tournament, we are going to try to compete and reach the best stage. We are a developmental side, but we hope that inasmuch as we are trying to develop these players they will also do well.
“We are developing but we would want to win matches as well. I believe the chance is there for us to excel at the tournament,” Ndlovu said.
The Young Warriors technical team which also has CAPS United assistant coach Mark Mathe as Ndlovu’s deputy has been boosted by the presence of experienced players in the squad.
A number of Castle Lager Premiership players such as Yadah midfielder Leeroy Mavunga, Highlanders Bhukosi Ncube, Bulawayo City and Hwange forwards Clive Rupiya and Delic Murimba, are part of the squad.
“I think we have a balance of experience in the national team so the young and fresh players will have guidance from the players who have been getting game time and have so far done well in the league,” said Ndlovu.
On Saturday, the team had a preparatory match with Yadah which ended 2-2.
The Young Warriors will have to negotiate their way to the semi-final round from Group C, where they have Angola, Lesotho and Namibia.