Promising U-23s begin Olympic journey

The new generation of U-23 players begin a tough and ambitious journey to qualify for the 2016 Brazil Olympics, with a clash against Swaziland in the first leg of a first round qualifier at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.

Kalisto Pasuwa
Kalisto Pasuwa

Should they get past Swaziland as expected, Zimbabwe would have to contend archrivals with rivals South Africa to reach the Caf U-23 Championships, slated for Senegal in December. It is from these finals that Africa’s three representatives at the Olympics will emerge.

While qualifying for the Olympics might prove a dream too far-fetched, the challenge for Coach Kalisto Pasuwa is to reach the finals in Senegal and allow his young players to gain more in exposure and experience.

The former Dynamos man has a formidable group of players at his disposal and should easily dispatch Swaziland over the two legs, despite the usual shoddy preparations which characterise Zimbabwe’s run-up to matches.

The expected inclusion of Netherlands-based Marvellous Nakamba and Mamelodi Sundowns winger Kuda Mahachi means Pasuwa has the opportunity to come up with a fearsome forward line against an opponent that has traditionally proved easy prey for Zimbabwe.

It is, however, the South Africans who provide stronger resistance in Zimbabwe’s route to the U-23 Championships. Yet, unlike in 2011 when they eliminated Zimbabwe from the All-Africa Games qualifiers, South Africa this time around appear short on quality at this level. The South African U-23s were knocked out of this year’s All-Africa Games qualifiers by Sudan. They fielded a team whose key stars are fringe players in the Absa Premiership. In contrast, the Young Warriors players have been among the top performers in the local league this season.

Post published in: Football

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