Zimbabwe’s under 17 soccer team has declared war on Angola in Sunday’s African Under-17 Championship final qualifier, first leg in Luanda. The Young Warriors, after being ignored by Zimbabwe Football Associaltion (ZIFA) now carries the hopes of the nation.
The team was been forced to look for its own sponsorship as Zifa focused on the senior national team. Now the young boys need to secure a result that will put them in good stead for qualification for the biannual African youth tournament.
The 2009 edition of the African Under-17 Championships is scheduled for March 19 to April 3 on artificial turf in Algiers, Algeria.
Angola booked their place in the final qualifying round after edging past Botswana in the first round while Zimbabwe overcame Reunion at the same stage.
The young side has included seven players who did not travel for the first round assignment away in Reunion.
Coach Rodewel Dhlakama defended the changes. “Whenever we make changes, it should be for the better and not for the worse … It means the players who are coming in are good as we want to improve every time,” said Dhlakama.
Dhlakama is hopeful Zimbabwe will do well, after having dominated the Angolans in two previous meetings last year.
He says he boys are not afraid of Angola. “It’s not a matter of experience at this level of the game, but exposure. At least we have more than eight players who have been exposed to international competition and this should come in handy for us,” he said.