Their back-to-back wins over Zambia was as impressive as they come and now they will parade themselves among Africa’s finest eight national teams at the continental finals from November 19 to December 3 this year in Cameroon.
In yesterday’s match, the Mighty Warriors took the lead thrice and Zambia came from behind twice but going into the final qualifier, Zimbabwe were always at an advantage having edged their northern neighbours 1-0 in the first leg at Rufaro last Wednesday.
Zimbabwe’s first goal came as early as the 6th minute through striker Kudakwashe Basopo, who was also on target in the first leg at Rufaro.
Samkelisiwe Zulu and midfielder Emmaculate Msipa were also on target for the Mighty Warriors.
Noria Sosali and Misozi Zulu scored for Zambia in the first and second half respectively.
Misozi converted a penalty in the second half.
Mighty Warriors coach, Shadreck Mlauzi was a happy man after the match and said their success goes down to some proper planning.
Speaking from Lusaka yesterday, Mlauzi said: “We thank the Almighty Lord for this victory. It wasn’t easy. We thank the Lord for this historic and significant moment for the country once again.
“Everything goes down to planning. We plan a lot as the technical team, everything is analysed, we don’t leave anything to chance. And also the professionalism we have when we conduct our training sessions has helped us. We have faith as a team, that’s how we go about our business.
“So at the end of the day it’s easy because players are adapting to what we’re training them.”
The Mighty Warriors coach was also full of praise for his charges whom he described as “extremely gifted” after yesterday’s victory.
“At this level it’s a question of planning and executing tactics. As I’ve said before we’re working with a group of players that are extremely gifted. We set the team based on what we would have observed as the technical team,” Mlauzi said.
It was a sweet victory for Zimbabwe as they were eliminated by Zambia in the last qualifying round of the 2014 edition of the same competition held in Namibia.
Zimbabwe previously participated in the Africa Women Cup of Nations in 2000, 2002 and 2004, then known as the Africa Women Championships. And their best performance was fourth place in 2000 when South Africa hosted the competition.
And yesterday, the current crop of the Mighty Warriors rose above the challenge to emerge winners to book their place at this year’s finals.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa yesterday hailed the Mighty Warriors’ latest success story and challenged the Warriors to derive inspiration from their female counterparts by qualifying for the 2017 Nations Cup finals.
“I’m very elated by the achievements of our Mighty Warriors, beating Zambia home and away, and showing the world that they’re indeed one of Africa’s finest football teams.
“When I came into office I promised that I would deliver big results for the nation and this is what I meant and I’m happy that everything’s going according to plan and this is just the start of the good times that we promised.
“This is the dawn of a new era for Zimbabwean football and the ball is now in the court of the Warriors, the girls have shown them the way, and they now must also qualify for the Afcon finals and I’m confident that nothing will stop us.
“I’m not someone who believes in failure, I don’t tolerate failure and I’m a man driven by success and I’m very, very, happy that we’re moving in that path when it comes to our football.
“Let’s all converge at Harare International Airport tomorrow (today) at about 5pm to give our heroines a hearty welcome as they return home because they deserve to be feted like queens,” Chiyangwa said.
The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane, also congratulated the Mighty Warriors for their qualification.
“The Minister of Sport and Recreation would like to extend hearty congratulations to the Mighty Warriors for doing the nation proud by qualifying for the Women Afcon finals to be held in Cameroon in November 2016.
“This victory comes hard on the heels of another milestone achievement where the same women’s national team also qualified for the Summer Olympics to be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2016.
“The Mighty Warriors have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they’re the best national team in Zimbabwe at the moment.
“The team has demonstrated that when the girl child is given equal opportunities, support and exposure, they can do as well as their male counterparts or even better,” said Hlongwane.
Hlongwane said it’s high time the corporate world come on board to support the women’s national soccer team as they have proved to be a force to reckon with.
“It’s time for the corporate sector and the fans to embrace the Mighty Warriors in the same manner they support the Warriors.
“This victory isn’t just a victory for sport in general and football in particular, but more importantly is a victory for every Zimbabwean woman as it comes hardly a month after Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day,” said Hlongwane.