Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo is confident his charges will rise to the occasion when they face Guinea in a 2014 Fifa World Cup Group G opening qualifier at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
The match kicks off at 3pm.
And the gods seem to be smiling on him following the return to full fitness of leading striker Knowledge Musona and wingers Khama Billiat and Ovidy Karuru, following injury scares during the week.
The team received a timely boost when Mbada Diamonds Holdings on Thursday night poured in $75 000 towards the players’ welfare, a gesture Gumbo said had raised morale in camp.
Yesterday, former Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari chipped in with $13 000 in appearance fees for the players who took part in last week’s testimonial match.
It is these crucial developments which Gumbo believes will drive the team come tomorrow.
“The guys are in a good frame of mind and from their body language you can see the boys are happy. The gesture by Mbada took a lot of pressure off us because the boys are no longer complaining about money. The enthusiasm they are showing at training has been good, I’m happy with their attitude,” said Gumbo after the team’s training session at the match venue yesterday.
Gumbo described the World Cup as the pinnacle for every player’s career and challenged his team to start their campaign with a bang against the West Africans
“In the past we used to just participate in these competitions, but now we have to compete and be counted among the best nations. We have prepared well for the match and I believe we will do well. We are not concerned about them (Guinea). In fact, they should be the ones more worried about how they are going to contain us at home,” added the former Warriors midfielder.
Warriors captain Tapuwa Kapini said the team was eagerly waiting for the match. He also thanked Mbada Diamonds Holdings for the support they rendered to the team
“We have been ready for this match ever since we got into camp. As the team’s captain, I want to say what Mbada did is most appreciated. What they have done to support football in Zimbabwe is remarkable.
“They have motivated us and the duty is now on us to deliver. What I want to assure them and the nation at large is that we will not disappoint,” said Kapini.
The Guinea squad, who have been camped in South Africa for the past week as they try to acclimatise to the local conditions, were expected in the country late last night. Team captain Kamil Zayatte speaking on Supersport Soccer Africa on Thursday night said they were looking for a positive start to the qualifiers. The West Africans have never qualified for the World Cup finals before.
“We respect all the teams in our group. There is no team which you can say is a small team in African soccer. They will be surprises in all the groups and our focus is to do well. It will be tough to play Zimbabwe at their home stadium, but we want to have a good start to our campaign. We will do our best to get a result there. Our dream is to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014,” said the former Hull City defender.
The Warriors and the National Elephants have clashed twice during the World Cup qualifiers in 2008 and both matches ended in goalless draws.
Guinea played in the last Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, but crashed out in the first round.
The Michel Dussuyer-coached side were beaten 1-0 by Mali, before walloping Botswana 6-1 and drawing their last match 1-1 against Ghana to bow out of the competition.
Their last match was against Cameroon in a friendly last week which they lost 2-1.
Meanwhile, Fifa last night unveiled the venue for the Mali-Algeria World Cup qualifying match, after it was decided not to hold it in Bamako following continued political instability in the West African nation.
The Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou will now host both teams on June 9 at the Stade du 4-Aout.
The Algeria Football Federation had requested for a change of venue after Egypt’s Al Ahly and Nigeria’s Sunshine Stars were left stranded in Bamako due to resurgence of violence.
However, Malian officials had said there were enough security guarantees for the match to go ahead at the original venue.Both teams are drawn in Group H alongside Rwanda and Benin. The Eagles open their campaign against the Squirrels tomorrow in Cotonou, while Algeria host the Amavubi today in Blida.