COSAFA UNDER 17: Coach laments short notice for players selection

By ZBC Reporter
FOLLOWING widespread criticism on the selection of Zimbabwe Under 17 side to the COSAFA tournament, Young Warriors coach Tafadzwa Mashiri has pointed to the short notice given to the technical team to assembly a competitive squad.
The Young Warriors are set to take part at the COSAFA tournament slated for the 19th to the 29th of this month at Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa.
The Under 17 side will face regional powerhouses Angola who are the 2018 champions, South Africa and unpredictable Eswatini.
The technical team recently announced the provisional squad made up of largely academy players, with some sections of society raising alarm over the absence of Bulawayo players despite the province having a viable junior league.
Some alleged that academies were using the national team to gain caps for their players so that they can easily be exported while shutting the door for other deserving candidates.
Speaking from their 10-day training camp base in Harare ahead of departure to South Africa, Head Coach Tafadzwa Mashiri indicated that the short notice had affected player selection.
“Because of the short notice, we had to rely on the recommendations from school, junior league and academy coaches. They are the ones who recommended some players to us and those are the players that we brought into camp especially given that there was no football to talk about. A lot of people were inactive because of the pandemic and there was no football for proper exhaustive selection to be done. We tried to touch every part of the country such that every part of the country is represented. We took players from different regions. Matabeleland had 9 players who came into camp; 6 from Bulawayo and three from Hwange. Some were from Harare and others from other provinces,” he said.
The lack of clarity on player selection protocols to national teams has come under the spotlight, with the need for a clear procedure that rewards the best performers being emphasized.
Provincial selects were a route that was used to come up with the best yesteryear national teams and can be followed up for the benefit of the country.
Turning to the COSAFA tournament, Mashiri conceded that the group was tough especially with perennial contenders Angola whom they face in the opener and South Africa, but his charges were going there to compete despite the inactivity as a result of Covid-19.
The top two teams advance to the semi finals which will be played on the 27th of this month, with the final two days later.
Reaching the final of the tournament will see Zimbabwe securing a place at the 2021 African Under-17 Cup of Nations set for Morocco next year.

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