Warriors final hurdle

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The final hurdle — Cape Verde — lies in wait for the Warriors at the Estadio da Varzea this afternoon as Zimbabwe meet the hosts in the penultimate 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Group A qualifier.

The game kicks off at 2pm (1700hrs Zim time).
The other match features Group A leaders Mali who face Liberia in Monrovia today — a match that has already been marred by allegations of match-fixing which starts at the same time.

Liberia, in addition to fielding a weakened team as reported yesterday, had also requested that the match be played yesterday, but that request was turned down by the Confederation of African Football.

Zimbabwe have eight points from two wins, two draws and a loss while Mali has nine. The Warriors need an outright win to make their third appearance at the games, while hoping that Mali will go down in Liberia.

Cape Verde are also in the equation as they have seven points and lie third. A win for them and a loss by Mali will give them the sole ticket to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Then there is the complex issue of making it through as the best runners-up!

Save for injured Edward Sadomba, coach Norman Mapeza has the whole arsenal at his disposal with the return of star striker Knowledge Musona, who missed the last qualifier against Liberia last month at home.

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Nyasha Mushekwi also returns to action after missing the Liberia match while support is expected from Khama Billiat, fit-again Ovidy Karuru and Willard Katsande from midfield and the wings.

Veteran Tinashe Nengomasha will play cover to back-four Thomas Sweswe, Method Mwanjali, Vusa Nyoni and Gilbert Mapemba and last man Tapuwa Kapini.

There has not been enough time for training in the searing heat of Cape Verde after the team arrived in batches on Wednesday, but there is no need for the coach to dehydrate the players ahead of the tie.

Speaking before departure, Mapeza said:
“There’s nothing we can do, we really wanted more days to train, but although we won’t have much time to prepare for this game, I’m very positive that we’ll come back with something.

“The good part of it is that most of the guys are fit and they’ve been having game time at their clubs.”
“It’s unfortunate that Sadomba is out, but with the availability of Knowledge (Musona) and the other strikers that we have, what is in my mind now is just to come back home celebrating,” said Mapeza.

Probable starting XI
Kapini, Mapemba, Nyoni, Sweswe, Mwanjali, Nengomasha, Katsande, Billiat, Karuru, Mushekwi, Musona.
Runner-up table (courtesy of Kick Off)
The two best runners-up will be determined by the following parameters in this order:
Highest number of points
Goal difference
Highest number of goals scored
Match replay in case of parity