COSAFA under-20s champs: coach speaks

With six COSAFA under-20s youth championships to their name, Zimbabwe Young Warriors have become one of the regional powerhouses – always among the favourites to lift the crown. Here, coach Jairos Tapera shares his thoughts on the forthcoming tournament, to be held in Lesotho early next month.

Young Warriors are COSAFA favourites.
Young Warriors are COSAFA favourites.

Zimbabwe is pooled in a group that also has Botswana and Swaziland – both fairly big fish in the youth competition. Tapera admitted they were under pressure.

“It is a tough group, but we will be prepared for whoever we face in this tournament. There are some excellent teams and, if we are to do well and go far, then we are going to have to beat the best. The teams will be concentrating on the development of their youngsters, of course, and that makes it difficult to know what make-up they will have. But we respect all teams.”

He still has a lot of work to do with his team.

“We are not yet satisfied, and coming into camp on Wednesday will be another 20 boys to try out. Hopefully, from that group, we can add another three or four to the players that we already have in mind to give us extra strength.”

Tapera hopes to achieve at least something out of the tournament and, if possible, emulate the likes of Methembe Ndlovu.

“Beyond winning the event, the most important thing for us is the development of these youngsters and guiding them through to the under-23 side and the senior national team.

“It is our responsibility to ensure the graduation of these players and this tournament will be an important step in that. We need to improve their skills and that comes with games in these times of tournament.

“I am happy that the Premier Soccer League has given a mandate that all teams must register five under-20 players. The teams are now starting to see the value of using these players in all competitions they take part in and that is great exposure.”

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