By Farirayi Kahwemba
SOUTH AFRICA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has hailed Zimbabwe’s return to international football, saying the participation of the Mighty Warriors in the COSAFA Women’s Championship will add more value to the tournament.
The Mighty Warriors – who are among the 12 teams taking part in this year’s showcase following the decision by FIFA to lift a suspension preventing Zimbabwe from playing international football – will be looking to regain their regional prowess by winning the competition.
The suspension was a huge blow to Zimbabwe, as they could not participate in the previous editions of the COSAFA championships.
Speaking to the media ahead of the regional tournament, Jordaan said the return of Zimbabwe to international football is a welcome development that will go a long way in strengthening Southern African football.
“I am also glad that another important member of the region, Zimbabwe, makes a welcome return to the tournament after two years following a ban by FIFA,” Jordaan said.
“Zimbabwe is a vital member of COSAFA and its presence will add value to the whole tournament,” he added.
Jordaan also explained the importance of the tournament in terms of achieving the goal of developing women’s football in Southern Africa.
Said Jordaan: “The annual tournament has always lived up to its billing and this year’s event will likely be bigger and better.
“It is no surprise that COSAFA women’s teams have dominated on the African continent and I want to thank all those involved — from sponsors to administrators — for a job well done.
“We hope that most of the matches will be attended by spectators from Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi, among other countries that normally travel to the Gauteng Province.”
The Mighty Warriors, who left Zimbabwe for South Africa on Tuesday, will play three group matches to determine whether or not they will progress to the next stage of the tournament.
The Zimbabwean team, being coached by Shadreck Mlauzi, will play against Lesotho and Namibia before completing their group campaign with a match against Botswana.
Zimbabwe are the third best ranked team after hosts South Africa and Zambia and are widely expected to progress beyond the group stages – despite having been inactive on the international stage for the past 18 months.