Warriors coach Norman Mapeza was left an impressed man after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Botswana in an international friendly match in Gaborone.
After seeing a complete withdrawal of all foreign-based players due to various reasons and a 21-hour road journey from Harare — stretching from Thursday morning into Friday morning — Mapeza had to do with a contingent of locally-based players only.
Speaking after the match, Mapeza said the result — with players coming from a long holiday — was commendable.
He said: “We did very well considering that we are coming from the off-season. The first half was good, but there was a collapse in the second half due to fatigue.
“Josta (Joel Ngodzo), Charles Sibanda, Cliff Sekete and Milton Makopa did very well in the match and I must add this gives us a starting point in widening our selection base for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
We need to have options going into these qualifiers and I am happy we had such a game and we were able to see a number of players in action.”
Makopa was pulled out in the second half due to cramped muscles and allayed any fears of a long-term injury. He is part of Calisto Pasuwa’s Dynamos squad that begins training today for yet another dance in the Caf Champions League.
“It is just cramp and nothing else, otherwise I am fine,” he said.
Besides Makopa, Mapeza also gave a run to his teammates — Washington Arubi, Guthrie Zhokinyi, Denver Mukamba, Rodreck Mutuma and Cuthbert Malajila — who will all be playing in the Champions League.
Dynamos received a bye into the first round and will meet the winner between Muculmana de Maputo of Mozambique and Mafunzo of Zanzibar.
In the event they progress, they are likely to play defending champions Esperance of Tunisia.
Sibanda, Ngodzo, Qadr Amin and Daniel Vheremu will be playing for FC Platinum in their debut in the preliminary round and a date with Sudanese giants El-Merreikh is possible if they proceed.
Zebras coach Stanley Tshosane said all was in place for their debut in the Afcon finals. They had a send-off dinner last night and were due to leave tomorrow for Cameroon for a 10-day training camp before departing for Gabon on January 21.
Their first match is against Ghana on January 24.
“It was a fair game and we used two approaches in both halves. I am impressed by the progress from the team and I can say after the Cameroon camp, we should be able to go and play to win.
The fitness of the players is good,” he said.
Star player Joel Mogorosi, linked with a move to FC Platinum, said they would try to impress in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
“We will try to fight as much as possible. Our strength is in defence and attack. We defend well. But what we need to do is convert the chances that we create.
As you saw from the game, we created a number of chances, but we could not score especially in the second half.
“So we need to go there knowing that we can fight, create the chances and score. Our preparations have gone on very well. I am sure by the time we play the first game against Ghana, we will be ready,” said Mogorosi.