Zimbabwe senior national team coach Norman Mapeza on Thursday joined the Young Warriors in their preparations for the final qualifier of the All-Africa Games against South Africa at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The Young Warriors go into the match having to overturn a 2-0 deficit suffered at the hands of South Africa two weeks ago.
Mapeza said he was helping out with the training in the absence of assistant coach Darlington Dodo who was said to be job-hunting in South Africa, but was expected back in the country on Thursday.
“I am just helping out because one of the coaches is not around. There is not much that I can say about the team as I have just started working with them today,” said Mapeza.
However, the duo of Archford Gutu and Simba Sithole were not part of the Young Warriors squad that took part in Thursday morning’s training session conducted under the watchful eye of Mapeza and head coach Friday Phiri.
Also out of Thursday’s training session was Jomo Cosmos striker Mathew Rusike who was down with flu.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare said expressed hope that everyone would be ready for the second leg which is a sink-or- swim match for the Young Warriors.
“Simba asked for an air ticket which I am sure Zifa will provide and Archie assured us that he will be coming late today (Thursday). The two, together with coach Dodo, who is also in South Africa, should arrive today (Thursday).
“Mathew Rusike is suffering from flu and he is taking some medication right now. We hope that he will have recovered on Sunday,” he said.
Mpandare added FC Platinum striker Donald Ngoma has finally joined camp and so has Masvingo United midfielder Hardlife Muvundi.
“The two players, Ngoma and Muvundi, have started training with the team and they are looking fit,” he said.
Cape Town Ajax forward Tafadzwa Rusike has been ruled out of the squad as Zifa does not have money for his airfare.
South Africa were expected in the country last night.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Bongani Ndulula is fired-up ahead of the match.
The Orlando Pirates striker recently equalled Siyabonga Nomvete’s tally of 15 goals for the national Under-23 side and is ready to take the record outright as Amaglug-glug seek to defend a 2-0 lead from the first leg against the Young Warriors.
The 21-year-old has scored his 15 goals in just 14 appearances, including an excellent poacher’s brace in the reverse fixture.
“I want to score 20 goals or more for the Under-23 side and I am happy that this target looks within my reach considering the number of games that I still have to play,” he told KickOff.com.
“Against Zimbabwe, this is what I will be thinking about and I know that I am going to score.”
“I know that we will do it because we have a good squad and that understands the coach (Shakes Mashaba) very well. He is very good for us and we owe him the success. There is nothing that can stop us from winning the Olympics.
“Other African teams have done it in the past and it is now our turn.”