COPA Coca-Cola Under-16 boys Midlands representatives, Cheziya High School of Gokwe will be looking to emulate defending champions Chemhanza High School and win this year’s tournament which will be played in Harare this weekend.
The team, known as the Cotton Boys, had a fairytale run during the provincial finals and sent shockwaves across the country when they had to play with 10 players for all their matches after some of their members were disqualified for alleged age cheating.
The tournament’s finals, the biggest spectacle in schools football, will be held in Harare this weekend with provincial winners both in the girls and boys categories battling for supremacy.
The matches which will begin tomorrow and end on Sunday, have been spread to different venues in the capital, including the Zimbabwe Grounds, Takashinga Cricket Academy, Highfield High School, Kuwangira and Chengu Schools in Highfield while the finals have been slated for Gwanzura Stadium.
Defending champions Chemhanza of Mashonaland East arrived at the finals in Mutare last year as a virtually unknown quantity, but went on to surprise many by winning the title.
Just like Chemhanza, Cheziya will be making their debut appearance at the national finals this year and have said they are ready to cause major upsets and win the tournament. Cheziya are in Group B which has Harare representatives Oriel Boys’ High and Bulawayo giants Mzilikazi, but are not fazed with the prospects of playing the traditional giants in schools football.
“My boys are raring to go. We are going to the finals with the aim of winning and nothing else. Our motto is ‘only the best is good enough’ – the best as you know can only be number one’ a buoyant Cheziya High School coach Noah Lunga said.
He added: “We sent out a clear message of intent at the provincial finals where we defied odds and came out tops despite our numerical disadvantage. Remember we had to endure five gruelling matches with only 10 boys after six of our boys were vetted out. Just imagine then what we could do with eleven on the field?”
The school headmaster Elijah Mazula was equally bullish and expects nothing short of victory as his boys had already shown that they were capable.
“I am very confident the boys will do us proud. After their heroic feat at the provincial finals, no one can surely deny our boys their place in the sun. Ours is a school of sporting excellence and our boys have already proven that,” Mazula said.
All participating teams are expected to start trooping in the capital today for vetting before the jamboree explodes tomorrow morning.
Group A: Chemhanza (Defending champions), Masvingo (Pamushana), Mash Central (Chipadze).
Group B: Harare (Oriel), Bulawayo (Mzilikazi), Midlands (Cheziya).
Group C: Mash East (Mukondwa), Mat North (Chinonge), Manicaland (Mutare Boys High).
Group D: Churchill (hosts), Mash West (Vimbai), Mat South (Mzingwane).
Group A: Roosevelt (Hosts), Mat South (Muzimuni), Mash Central (St Francis).
Group B: Mash East (Mwanza), Bulawayo (Magwegwe), Masvingo (Chidzikwe).
Group C: Midlands (Gato), Chidyamakono (Defending champs), Mat North (Chilisa).
Group D: Harare (Vainona), Manicaland (Nyamaruru), Mash West (Sodbury).