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Make or break for Warriors

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A decisive encounter awaits the Warriors on Wednesday evening as they take on Ghana in their second Group B match in the African Nations Championships at the Mehdani Stadium in Wad Mehdani.

Kick-off is 7pm Zimbabwe time.

Both teams have no points after losing their opening matches to Niger and South Africa respectively. Only a win against Ghana will ensure the Warriors’ possible progress.

If Zimbabwe pick three points and South Africa beat Niger in another match, then the February 13 Battle of the Limpopo between the two southern African neighbours will decide the Warriors’ fate.

If the the Madinda Ndlovu-coached side fail to beat Ghana tonight, they are assured of being on the Valentine’s Day flight back home.

With striker Clive Kawinga ruled out due to a thigh injury, Ndlovu has to make changes to his starting line-up and add firepower to get the much-needed three points.

The Warriors were due for another training session late yesterday although Ndlovu retained faint hopes of Kawinga’s recovery. The striker said he was still feeling pain in his thigh and was doubtful for the crucial match.

“We need to add numbers to the attack because we definitely need three points or we are out.

“We have 23 players here, able replacements in Norman Maroto and Simba Sithole, who has been scoring with the Under-23 team. We have a mechanism of attack which we have been polishing up to sharpen the attack. We hit the post three times against Niger. We created the chances, and now we need to put them away.”

If Maroto starts, he is likely to form a two-man attack partnering Sithole with Charles Chiutsa replacing Charles Sibanda, who is also struggling with a knock.

Central defender Guthrie Zhokinyi is also on the casualty list.

Erick Mudzingwa, Joel Ngodzo and Archford Gutu, who might start ahead of Denver Mukamba, will form the core of the midfield.

The midfield kingpins will be tasked with ensuring a clean supply of balls upfront.

But from Ndlovu’s tone on Tuesday, Mukamba could be given another opportunity to start.

Madinda said: “He is getting his confidence back, he is a brilliant player and on a good day he can turn the tables on any opponent.”

Not many changes are expected in the back four as Nyasha Mukumbi, Gilbert Mapemba, Qadr Amin and Zhokinyi are expected to retain their positions with Brian Mapfumo playing the anchorman’s role.

“The defence did well against Niger except for the temporay lapse when we conceded a goal, but we need to rectify our mistakes in that department as well,” said Madinda.

The former Warriors winger said the game was going to be tactical.

“We will go into the match with our own game plan because we don’t know their dangerous players in as much as they don’t know ours.

So it’s going to be a tactical game and the superior system will win the game.”

Ghana coach Herbert Addo has pledged to resuscitate the Black Stars’ campaign.

“They (Warriors) are a good side, but we are ready to bounce back. We have been working hard on our mistakes and we need three points from tomorrow (Wednesday)’s game. Like I said after the South Africa match, it was just a lapse at the back.

We have worked on those things and are looking forward to a positive result,” he said.

The West Africans have in their ranks the scorer from the South Africa loss, Daniel Larbi Coomson, Gilbert Fiamengo and attacking midfielders Idan Bismarck and Nafiu Awudu.

South Africa, Zimbabwe’s next opponents in Hilal on February 13, believe they are the best conditioned team in the tournament after holding their training camp in Nelspruit, which has the same conditions as Sudan.

The Black Stars coach kept his cards close to the chest on his starting line up.

Warriors’ probable line-up:
Arubi, Mapemba, Amin, Mukumbi, Zhokinyi, Mapfumo, Mudzingwa, Ngodzo, Chiutsa, Maroto and Sithole.

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