They may have failed to go past the group stages of the women’s football tournament at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, wrapping up their campaign with a 1-6 defeat against Australia in their final Group F game on Tuesday, but the Mighty Warriors fought to the end.
The Zimbabwe senior women’s side had a bad start on Tuesday at Arena Fonte Nova, conceding the first goal just two minutes into the game unlike in the other two matches against Germany and Canada.
But it is their fighting spirit that kept them going at this competition despite losing all their group matches as they made their debut Olympic appearance.
In Tuesday’s game, Australia got their goals through Lisa De Vanna two minutes into the match, Clare Polkinghorne, Alanna Kennedy, Kyah Simon and Michelle Heyman, who rose from the bench to score a brace.
The match went into the break with Australia leading 3-0 and they sealed their victory in the second half with three more goals.
Mighty Warriors’ coach, Shadreck Mlauzi, had to bring in Lindiwe Magwede to replace Chido Dzingirai in the 57th minute when the scoreline was 0-5 after she got injured.
Emmaculate Msipa scored the Mighty Warriors’ consolation and final goal at the Olympics.
The senior women side lost 1-6 in their opener against Germany last Wednesday. They then lost 1-3 to Canada on Saturday and on Tuesday they had another mammoth task as they faced fifth-ranked Australia.
Zimbabwe, participating at the Olympics for the first time, were the lowest ranked country at 93. But they showed some character scoring three goals at the competition against the world’s best teams.
Being their first time to compete at such a big stage, one can only hope there are some positive lessons drawn from this competition, not only by the team, but also the administrators on how to prepare for such tournaments.
The Mighty Warriors’ journey to the Olympics was not an easy one, characterised by lack of adequate preparations as ZIFA struggled to fund the team.
While Zimbabwe conceded 15 goals in their three matches and scored three, their fellow Africans, Banyana Banyana of South Africa, conceded three goals on their way out. They lost 0-1 to Sweden, 0-2 to China before holding Brazil to a goalless draw in the last match on Tuesday, but that was not enough to take them to the next round of the competition.
South Africa were making their second appearance at the Games following their participation at the 2012 London Games.
The tournament consisted of three groups and the top two teams from across the pools automatically qualified for the quarter-finals. They will be joined by the top two third-placed teams.
And Australia’s victory over Zimbabwe earned them a place in the last eight as one of the best third placed-teams. They join Group F winners Canada and runners-up Germany. Canada topped the group with nine points after beating Germany 2-1 on Tuesday.
In Group E, Brazil, China and Sweden made it to the quarter-finals while South Africa were sitting at the bottom of the log table with one point.
Sweden, just like Australia, goes through by virtue of being one of the best third-placed teams. USA emerged as the winners of Group G followed by France and they are the two countries that will advance to the quarter-finals set for tomorrow.
Tomorrow: United States v Sweden (Brasilia), China v Germany (Salvador), Brazil v Australia (Belo Horizonte), Canada v France (Sao Paulo). The Herald
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