Zimbabwe lost to Germany 6-1 and to Canada 3-1 in its initial 2 matches in Rio de Janeiro and plays its final group game against Australia on Tuesday, however forget those scores and concentrate, rather, on the very fact that African nation is ranked No. ninety three in the world and still made it to the top twelve teams at the Olympics. Then you will begin to see how remarkable their story is, then add to that countless odds and you will be left astounded.
The Mighty Warriors left their mark on various groups, too. North American country coach John Herdman said he showed his players newspaper reports on however the Zimbabweans had been confronted by adversity and one among the stories told of however the African nation team, had to actually raise $100 to acquire a medical scan for one among their team members who had been injured.
And there’s Muzongondi’s personal story, too who left the African nation and its ruined economy to come to South Africa searching for work. She found employment as a house cleaner however it didn’t pay enough and she packed her luggage and got on a bus for home, committing the maximum amount as was possible to soccer whilst trying to make ends meet by working at the sugar factory.
Paid only $20 (R250) a day each when on national team duty, and $50 (R650) each for playing in a match, most the Zimbabwean players have day jobs, and it is fair to say stranger things have happened in football.
“Everybody within the country is now talking about the Mighty Warriors,” Muzongondi the captain noted “To us, that’s the best factor we’ve achieved eight recognition.”
“We have so many difficult things,” Muzongondi said at the final group game press conference. “Some of the players–they have their jobs but some of the players they do not. All I can say that we wish to have professional football just like the teams we are meeting here in Brazil. I hope one day we will be like them.”
It is an important message. When the FIFA Women’s World Cup was expanded from 16 to 24 teams, there was a lot of discussion about diluting the strength of the competition with “lesser” teams.
Instead, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup saw a competition where those “lesser” teams rose to the occasion and played some of the most exciting football. Importantly, they were also provided with quality minutes against the best teams in the world. Ideally that exposure will have positive impacts on their own national competitions.
“It wasn’t quite easy but it was one of those things where one felt so proud to lead a nation that has been starved of success for such a long time,” said Mlauzi. “Back home we are the first team to qualify for such a major tournament since we [Zimbabwe] obtained our independence in 1980.
“It was really something of great significance, not just to the country but ourselves as individuals.”
Once in Brazil, however, Zimbabwe have gone about trying to be more than canon fodder for Group F with some success. It is an achievement that Mlauzi is proud of considering the lack of preparation afforded the team.
“It was not ideal,” Mlauzi stated bluntly. “For these tournaments the level of preparation has got to be of the highest quality.
“We go through so many difficult times as a team but we are able to endure all sorts of hardships, and at times one could say abuse, but at the end of the day we stick together. We are united by a cause and honestly they are fantastic group to work with. So much hardworking, so much willing to learn and at the end of the day we complement each other so well.”
Zimbabwe play Australia in their final group match today at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.