Goalkeeping Shift: Highlanders Embrace Change as Warriors Prepare for Cosafa

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Transition in Goalkeeping: Sibanda praises Pitisi’s national team debut.
Sibanda’s Potential Retirement: Considering leaving Highlanders after 15 years.
Pitisi’s Achievement: Young goalkeeper boosts team confidence.
Warriors’ Cosafa Campaign: Challenges in preparation for upcoming matches.

A New Era for Highlanders

The Highlanders Football Club is witnessing a significant transition as veteran goalkeeper and team skipper Ariel Sibanda has openly praised the rise of their first-choice goalkeeper, Raphael Pitisi. This commendation comes on the heels of Pitisi’s first call-up to the senior national team, the Warriors, who recently arrived in South Africa to compete in the Cosafa tournament.

Pitisi’s Breakthrough

The young and dynamic Pitisi has evidently impressed both fans and teammates alike, earning his spot in the national squad. This achievement highlights his remarkable performance and dedication to the sport. Pitisi, alongside Marley Tavaziva of Brentford and Tawanda Chinani, will be vying for the coveted Warriors number one jersey, showcasing the depth of talent within the team.

Sibanda’s Reflections on Retirement

Ariel Sibanda, a stalwart of the Highlanders for 15 years and a former Warriors goalkeeper, is contemplating his future. He has indicated that this season might be his last with the Bulawayo giants. While he is considering stepping away from Highlanders, Sibanda is still undecided about retiring from football entirely.

“I still have to think about it (retiring), but I feel I still have much to give to football. What I can say is I still have to decide about this year and next year, but I think this is my last year at Highlanders,” Sibanda shared with NewsDay Sport.

A Mentor’s Pride

Despite losing his starting position to Pitisi, Sibanda remains incredibly supportive and proud of his young teammate’s accomplishments. He believes that Pitisi’s call-up to the national team will significantly boost his confidence and further his development as a top-tier goalkeeper.

“I am very happy for Pitisi. The national team call-up will boost his confidence,” Sibanda stated. “He has been doing well ever since he came on board. What we have to do is to just support him because he has done his best. He deserves the call-up.”

Team Dynamics and New Faces

In addition to Pitisi, another Highlanders player, Mckinnon Mushore, has made his debut appearance for the Warriors, highlighting the club’s continued contribution to the national team. Meanwhile, Lynoth Chikuhwa was dropped from the squad, indicating the competitive nature of selections.

Warriors’ Journey to Cosafa

The Warriors’ journey to the Cosafa Cup has been marked by challenges. They departed Harare for Port Elizabeth at midday and were expected to arrive in the evening. The team’s preparations have been less than ideal, with only one training session held back home due to logistical issues.

“Warriors left Harare for Port Elizabeth at midday (yesterday). They are expected in PE this evening. They are now en route to PE for the Cosafa Cup tournament. The first game is on Thursday afternoon against Comoros,” Zifa confirmed.

Upcoming Matches

The Warriors are set to face Comoros in their opening match tomorrow, followed by a clash with Zambia on Sunday at Wolfson Stadium, and finally, a game against Kenya next Tuesday at the same venue. The team is in Group B, alongside Comoros, Kenya, and Zambia, setting the stage for intense competition.

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