Warriors players are demanding to have their 2014 Fifa World Cup match against Guinea moved from the National Sports Stadium to Rufaro Stadium.
The players said they are not comfortable playing on the bumpy and bruised pitch of the giant stadium.
The grounds men were busy trying to patch up the stadium, which is seemingly suffering the impact of overuse. This led to the cancellation of the Warriors morning training session yesterday.
The stadium has for the past few weeks been used to host non-sporting activities, chief among them church services.
Speaking to journalists after yesterday’s afternoon training session at the match venue, Warriors vice captain Tinashe Nengomasha said the general consensus in the squad was for the match to be moved to Rufaro.
“As players we always want to play our home games at Rufaro,” said the Kaizer Chiefs hardman. “Everyone wants to play in a pitch where they feel they can deliver the goods. When we play at Rufaro the boys are more motivated because the surface is good and the supporters are near us. As players we feel at home there,” he added.
Nengomasha said they have put their request to the technical team and are still waiting for a response.
“Most of the players who are in the team play outside the country and are used to playing on good pitches so it will be difficult for them to adjust here (NSS). Supporters want to see us playing good passing football but it’s difficult in this kind of surface so we end up playing long balls,” said Nengomasha.
Nengomasha however said the players are in good spirits going into the match.
The veteran midfielder said they will have to win all their home matches and try to squeeze results away from home if they are to qualify for the World Cup, a sentiment that was echoed by team captain Tapuwa Kapini.
“It’s very important to start on a high note. Most of our downfalls in the previous qualifiers are these first matches. We tend to do well as we progress but the damage would already have been done. It’s important to win these first matches especially at home,” said Nengomasha.
Kapini said: “The supporters should expect a good game from us. We are working on teamwork and all we want is a win on Sunday. We have to win all the home games and I can promise that we will win. Guinea are no pushovers because they have professional players who play in professional leagues across Europe but they cannot beat us here.”
The team had an intense training session yesterday which lasted for about three hours.
Midfielder Khama Billiat who had initially been ruled out of the match with an ankle problem trained and showed no signs of pain. Esrom Nyandoro, who joined camp yesterday evening also trained but France based Ovidy Karuru watched the session from the sidelines with a shoulder problem.
Warriors team doctor Nicky Munyonga said there are hopes Billiat might make it for the Sunday game while Karuru’s injury is minor.
“There is a marked improvement in terms of his (Khama) response to treatment. We have allowed him to train and he said he is feeling ok. As long as he trains with minimal pain, we are still hopeful. As for Karuru, it’s nothing to worry about. He clashed with Carrington at training yesterday and he is feeling some pain so we have decided to rest him.
We are not taking chances,” said Munyonga.