Warriors midfielder and Mamelodi Sundowns captain Esrom Nyandoro believes Zimbabwe can still qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 if they remain focused on the third match against Mali in March next year.
The Warriors have drawn twice in the campaign: 1-1 against Liberia away, which was thought to be the tonic for a third appearance in the biannual competition before they stuttered to a 0-0 home against group leaders, the Cape Verde Islands.
This lacklustre outcome was partly fuelled by the confusion in the Warriors technical department where former caretaker coach Norman Mapeza took charge of the Liberia game before becoming a co-coach with Madinda Ndlovu in the Cape Verde match.
Before the second match, Belgian Tom Saintfiet had been appointed the head coach but was deported before the game as he had not secured a work permit. Nyandoro, dropped for the first game by Mapeza who said he was now old, told NewsDay in a recent interview that Zimbabwe’s chances of qualifying were still bright.
“There is need to remain focused on the game. There is still a chance. We know its going to be a tough game in Bamako as playing away is always a problem, but we are looking forward to the game. If we win, and then win the home games, we can qualify. We have depth in terms of players, but I am not sure where the bad results are coming from. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck. We have players in Europe, but unfortunately that has not worked to our advantage.”
Zimbabwe has an array of players in Europe:
Justice Majabvi who plays in Austria and is eyeing a move to the German Bundesliga, Musa Mguni, who turns out for Metalurh in Ukraine, Noel Kaseke (AC Omonia, Cyprus), Obadiah Tarumbwa (Paralimni, Cyprus) and the Belgian trio of Vusa Nyoni (Germinal Beerschot), Honour Gombami (Cercle Brugge) and Cephas Chimedza of Sint Truiden. Besides the huge South African contingent, Zimbabwe has Cuthberth Malajila in Tunisia (Club Africain) and Edward Sadomba, who plays for Sudanese giants Al Hilal.
Nyandoro added: “I am not old, and would love to have another dance in the competition. We should be able to lay a good ground for the young players that are coming up.”
For now the Warriors have caretaker coach Ndlovu in charge until a substantive, possibly a local coach, is put in place by the New Year. Mapeza wants the job and recently acquired a Caf C-Licence while Ndlovu holds the German B licence. Turning to the Absa Premiership race in South Africa, Nyandoro said: “We need to keep our feet on the ground, it’s a long way to go. We need to concentrate, keep working hard and maintain focus. The issue is the other big guns are also doing well in the league.”
Nyandoro captains fellow Zimbabweans at the club, hotshot striker Nyasha Mushekwi, defender Method Mwanjali and midfielder Lionel Mtizwa.
On Mushekwi he said: “He is settling in very well, it’s not easy to play at Sundowns. There is a lot of pressure, but he is young and will be one of the best in the business soon.”
Sundowns lead the standings while Kaizer Chiefs are second. Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and the colourfully supported Bloemfontein Celtic are also chasing the league title.