zim under 17

CAF boost for Under-17

Noel Munzabwa

THE Eswatini Under-17 national team might not have progressed beyond the group stages at the Cosafa Under-17 Championships underway in Mauritius but the shock 3-2 win over the much fancied Zimbabwe Young Warriors exposed the lattera��s selection of largely academy players.

With boys drawn from a pool of players who have been involved in the Esibayeni Lodge Under-17 League a�� a national league drawn from the countrya��s MTN Premier League of Eswatini through the pre-requisites of the Caf Club Licensing system, the Velekhaya Mtsetfwa-coached side set their opponents on a back foot.

Interesting enough, the winning goal was netted by a 15-year-old, Langelihle Dlamini who turns out for Matsapha United Under-17. As such Zimbabwe authorities have to rethink on the full implementation of the Caf Club Licensing system prerequisites.

With players largely drawn from Harare-based soccer academies, Young Warriors lost all their three group matches 2-3 to Eswatini, 0-5 to Malawi and 1-2 to Angola to complete one of the most atrocious campaigns at this level.

Even before the tournament, coach Tafadzwa Mashiri had lamented less available platforms hindering a thorough search for effective talent.

To compound the matter the National Association of Secondary School Heads, against all wisdom held the national finals in Beitbridge on the day the Under-17 flew out of Harare further dividing potentially best talent.

In cementing his post tournament view, Mtsetfwa underpinned the importance of development as a pinnacle of future success.

a�?We have said development is the best pinnacle for success thus we have been drilling our boys with development forming the main core so that they adapt well into the international scene.

a�?Yes, there were moments when stage fright almost overwhelmed them considering that they are young and probably most of them were playing outside Eswatini for the first time in their young careers but most of the development areas went well and we will attend to the mental needs,a�? said Mtsetfwa.

Eswatini were in Group C together with Angola, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has dominated Eswatini at the senior, Under-23 and Under-20 levels of mena��s football and the Under-17 level turned the tables.

The importance of the Cosafa Under-17 tournament has been heightened by the decision of the Confederation of African Football handing the ultimate champions a ticket to the eight team Africa Under-17 Nations Cup set for Tanzania next year (12-26 May).