NATIONAL senior women football coach Shadreck Mlauzi says his team’s failure at the African Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) is a consequence of bad preparations.
BY HENRY MHARA IN YAOUNDE, CAMEROON
The Mighty Warriors crashed out of the eight-team tournament on Friday night after slumping to their second defeat after a 2-0 loss to hosts Cameroon.
The defeat means Mlauzi’s team finished bottom of Group A with one point, behind Egypt with three, while Cameroon and South Africa qualified to the semi-finals with six and four points respectively.
More depressing for the Mighty Warriors is that they leave Cameroon without having scored a single goal in the tournament, having drawn 0-0 with South Africa and losing to Egypt 1-0, albeit in controversial circumstances.
And as the nation begins its inquest into yet another failure by a national team at a major tournament, Mlauzi said: “Our failure could be a combination of many factors, but we all know the main reason. We did not have the best of preparations,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
“The team assembled for its final camp a week before the tournament, which is not good enough coming to games of this magnitude and physical demands.”
He added: “Our perfomance is a reflection of the football structures that we have back home. Do we have a vibrant league? If the answer is no, so it was always going to be difficult.
“The quality of coaching at club level is also a factor. Is it the best? I will not answer that one. But the bottom line is football has no shortcuts. It’s about the right systems throughout. We need to have a vibrant junior structures. We need to compete at junior tournaments, to have our players exposed to international tournaments and best standards so that those junior teams act as a feeder system to the senior team. It’s good for the continuity of the team.”
Mlauzi was asked if the controversial defeat to Egypt when an inconsistent Burundi referee Suavis Iratunga disallowed the Mighty Warriors a genuine goal for an equaliser, could also have contributed to their early exit from Awcon.
Zifa has since lodged a complaint with Confederation of African Football (CAF) against the poor officiating in that particular Tuesday match, that left Mlauzi fuming on the touchline and players in tears at the final whistle.
But perhaps fearing a reprimand from CAF, Mlauzi chose to dwell on his team and his association’s shortcomings.
The Mighty Warriors are expected to depart Yaounde tomorrow and arrive back home on Tuesday, to mark an end of what has been a horrible episode that started from the build-up and throughout the tournament for both coach and players.