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Young Warriors’ South African mission

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Young Warriors football mentor Friday “Amayenge” Phiri is a man on a mission.

Phiri has promised to wreck South Africa’s dream of qualifying for the All-Africa Games in Mozambique later this year when his charges take on South Africa’s Under-23 side in the first leg of the final qualifier at Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton on Saturday afternoon.

The former Monomotapa coach looked relaxed and was not intimidated at all when interviewed at the team’s Garden Court Hotel, just a stone’s throw away from OR Tambo International Airport and 40 minutes away from the match venue.

On the other side, “Amaglug-glug”, as the South African youth team is popularly known, vowed to overrun the visitors following their resounding 5-1 victory over Benin on a 2012 Olympics qualifier last week.

The South Africans have an impressive home record after whipping Angola 3-1 in another All-Africa Games qualifier before trouncing Malawi 4-1, again at home.

But Phiri believes Saturday’s match is a different ball game.

“We do stand a chance as much as they do because we are in top form especially when playing away. Our record will show you that we beat Zambia away and drew with Botswana in Gaborone. We have a strong squad with a clean bill of health.

“We have become a stronger team as the qualifiers gathered momentum and I don’t see any reason why we will fail to beat South Africa here.

“We hope to continue with our rich vein of form. South Africa say they are a high-scoring team, but we are too. We will compete pound for pound with them tomorrow (Saturday) and we are not worried that they will be playing at home because there are so many Zimbabweans here.

“We have to win this game so that we make our life easy in the second leg at home,” said the former Caps United forward.

The Young Warriors beat Zambia 3-2 in Lusaka and drew 2-2 with the Young Zebras of Botswana.
Zimbabwe arrived in this chilly city on Friday morning after failing to travel as expected on Thursday, but the team was buoyant ahead of the clash dubbed “Clash of the Limpopo Part 1” by some sections of the media here.

Team manager Wellington Mpandare said: “We have nothing to complain about. We are living like kings at our hotel and we can’t ask for more. The good environment has left our team with a lot of focus and I have no doubt that we will get a positive result against South Africa.”

Amaglug-glug midfielder Thamsanqa Sangweni was quoted in the Citizen newspaper threatening to overrun the Young Warriors.

Sangweni said: “It is going to be a tough match but I believe we can come out tops. Being together this long has helped us understand each other better. We showed that against Benin and we can do it all over again against Zimbabwe.”

Reports here suggested that South African coach Shakes Mashaba would have wanted Orlando Pirates hotshot Andile Jali and Kamohelo Mokotjo but the two have been ruled out because of club commitments.

The Young Warriors technical team also lost the services of Kaizer Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona and Cape Town Ajax midfielder Khama Billiart who were both asked to stay with their clubs for pre-season preparations.

Zimbabwean Mthulisi Ncube, who sells his wares in Johannesburg central business district, predicted a victory for the Young Warriors.

Probable line up: Ariel Sibanda, Lincoln Zvasiya, Obey Mwerahari, Qadr Amini, Timire Mamvura, Knowledge Machona, Devon Chafa, Mathew Rusike, Archford Gutu, Simba Sithole and Abbas Amidu

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