HomeSportSoccerZim hope for the best at soccer championships

Zim hope for the best at soccer championships

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With just a week before the African Nations Championships (Chan) roll into life in Sudan, the Warriors have named a 23-man squad that includes six players for the future and a generally experienced squad that can achieve better results.

The competition, designed for players in the domestic leagues, runs from February 2-25 and the Warriors of Zimbabwe, making their second appearance, have been grouped against South Africa, Niger and Ghana.

They open their campaign in the 16-nation tournament against Niger on February 5, engage the Black Stars of Ghana four days later and round off the group campaign against neighbours South Africa on February 13.

Ghana started their camp in Kenya last Thursday in preparation for Chan.

The 23-man squad will also gauge their strength against some lower divisions clubs around the Kenya capital during their near fortnight-long stay in preparation for the tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues.

An official of the team, George Afriyie told Cafonline.com that the choice of Kenya was to help the team acclimatise well due to the similarities with the climatic conditions of Sudan.

The team is expected to leave for Khartoum early February ahead of their first match against South Africa on February 5, 2011.

The Stars will next play Zimbabwe four days later before wrapping up against Niger on February 13.

The home-based Black Stars won silver in the first edition of the competition hosted by Ivory Coast two years ago.

South Africa coach Simon Ngomane has already described the draw as tough.

“It is a difficult draw. You look at Ghana, for example, who did extremely well at in the (Fifa 2010) World Cup and you look at their youth development.”

Ngomane added that northern neighbours and rivals Zimbabwe will be a factor, especially as they were returning for a second Chan tour of duty after qualifying for the inaugural event held in Ivory Coast in 2009.

He said South Africa were looking forward to the Chan derby against Zimbabwe in Sudan.

In the first edition in 2009 in Ivory Coast under Sunday Chidzambwa, the Warriors managed three draws against eventual champions the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Libya and failed to reach the knockout phase.

Acting head coach Madinda Ndlovu has named a 23-man squad with six Young Warriors players getting the chance of their lifetime to rub shoulders with the best on the continent. The six are Joel Ngodzo, Archieford Gutu, Simba Sithole, Denver Mukamba, Arial Sibanda and Under-23 captain Qadr Amin.

No doubt, this should be the basis of any future national team, at least if they maintain their form and there is no suspicion about their ages, which might see them fizzle out earlier than expected.

They will be in action on Tuesday at Rufaro Stadium when the Young Warriors face Zambia in the preliminary round, second leg qualifier for the All-Africa Games.

From the 2009 squad, there are six survivors, goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, Elvis Meleka, Gutu, Daniel Vheremu, Guthrie Zhokinyi and Clive Kawinga while the rest of 11 players, the six youngsters aside, are making their debuts.
NewsDay Sport takes a look at some of the key players in the final squad.

Ndlovu has cover in each position, with two players ready to take part in case of injury or suspension.

For instance, he has eight defenders and eight midfielders.

Washington Arubi, no doubt he is the best in the business in the land today.

He travelled with the senior squad to Maputo for a friendly match against Mozambique and was benched by Ndlovu.

The explanation was simple — do you doubt yourself about not going to Sudan?

If you don’t, stay on the bench because Tapuwa Kapini (Platinum Stars, South Africa) won’t be going there! Commanding a defence and ball distribution, is his point of excellence, something he learnt well at Lancashire Steel but he needs improvement in dealing with crosses.

Guthrie Zhokinyi — While others clamoured for George Magariro — another Lancashire Steel man — I find Zhokinyi the best in central defence.

The pair might have a telepathic understanding at Dynamos, but this is football at a different level.

Zephaniah Ngodzo — can occupy any of the four positions at the back and is likely to line with up with Gilbert Mapemba, Zhokinyi and Daniel Vheremu in the back line with Nyasha Mukumbi, Amin, Ben Nyahunzvi and David Boriwondo playing cover. From the “other four”, Under-23 star Amin is most likely to get some action at left wing-back.

Charles Chiutsa — has all the experience from playing in the Champions League with Monomotapa and is one player determined to deliver at all costs. He is versatile, can play as a striker or behind the attackers, providing the technical team with options, although his biggest strength is from driving in from deep in midfield.

Erick Mudzingwa — probably has the highest workrate in the team, able to assist in attack and has scored crucial goals for Highlanders.

He can win balls for the midfield, but his major problem is the high number of stray passes in a game.

Joel Ngodzo — skilful, able to rip apart any midfield and create opportunities for the attackers, he has not let publicity get to his head and can be a very useful player for the Warriors with his trickery.

He had better avoid playing to the gallery as well.

Archieford Gutu — he has matured above his age — whatever it is — and no doubt he is more gritty now than the last time he tried his luck at Ajax Cape Town.

His return to Dynamos has instilled some confidence into his game and can deliver once given a chance.

Norman Maroto — he is a simply goal-getter and needs to be a fed with clean balls from the midfield. He also needs support from a strike partner, probably in the style of Clive Kawinga.

Charles Sibanda — has not been tested at this level, but it will not be a bad idea to give him and Simba Sithole — good for a run in the competition.

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