It’s now or never.
The moment of truth has come for Warriors coach Norman Mapeza.
But Mapeza on Friday remained calm and sent a message of confidence to the nation that will grind to halt to watch the most important 90 minutes of football the team have played in these qualifiers.
Mapeza believes he has the right blend of players to get the needed result.
“Everything is going on well in terms of preparations for the match. I know there is enormous pressure hanging above the team to win, but the first thing we have to do is to stay calm,” said Mapeza.
“There is nothing to be afraid of; I know I have a team to meet the challenge. These are the best players I have at the moment and they have shown that they are capable of winning any match. We just have to keep our shape and play football as we know we can,”
On, Knowledge Musona and Nyasha Mushekwi’s absence for the crucial tie, Mapeza said, “It’s not like they are not in the squad because they have been dropped but it’s because of injury and suspension.
They are not here but the game has to be played, life has to go on. This will be a chance for other players to take responsibility and shine. All the players that have been picked into the squad are capable of doing the job,” said Mapeza.
The Warriors players were also bubbling with confidence ahead of the do-or-die clash. Striker Edward “Duduza” Sadomba who has come under fierce criticism from a section of Warriors fans for his indifferent form for his Al-Hilal of Sudan and the national team said this was his chance to impress in front of the home crowd.
The speedster, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday has promised the nation a “big birthday present.”
The Warriors stepped up their preparations for the match with an afternoon training session on Friday at the match venue. On Friday, they played a match against league champions Motor Action which ended goalless.
From the Warriors training session yesterday and the Mighty Bulls friendly, it seems Mapeza will stick to the team that beat Mali with some slight changes expected at the back and in attack.
Amazulu’s eccentric captain Tapuwa Kapini is expected to keep his position between the goalposts while Warriors and Mamelodi Sundowns skipper Method Mwanjali and FC Platinum hard man Daniel Vheremu will provide cover in defence.
Roving right back Gilbert Mapemba who missed the international friendly match against Zambia last month due to club commitments is likely to reclaim his jersey from Tapiwa Khumbuyani while Vusa Nyoni has been quite impressive at the left-back position.
Nyoni will link up with left winger Khama Billiat on that side.However, it is in midfield that Mapeza is spoilt for choice.
Kaizer Chiefs’ Tinashe “Father” Nengomasha was the anchorman while his teammate at Chiefs Willard Katsande was given the playmaker’s responsibility against Zambia and “Bute” as he is affectionately known by the Warriors fans was awesome in the true sense of the word.
But if there is a player who has given the success-starved nation reason to believe, it is little Khama Billiat.
The Warriors slippery winger has been touted as the future Peter Ndlovu and he has not disappointed.
The Warriors will naturally go for goals and it will be no surprise if Mapeza chose Sadomba and Cuthbert Malajila in an attacking 4-4-2 formation.
Mapeza still has the likes of a rejuvenated Tafadzwa “Fire” Rusike, Quincy Antipas, Archford “Uche” Gutu, Lincoln Zvasiya, Qadr Amini and Simba Sithole at his disposal who are all capable of coming off the bench and change the complexion of the game if the need arises.
Warriors’ probable line-up
T Kapini, G Mapemba, M Mwanjali, D Vheremu, V Nyoni, T Nengomasha, W Katsande, K Billiart, O Karuru, E Sadomba, C Malajila