NO MAJOR changes will be made to the Warriors squad that is set to travel for the decisive Africa Cup of Nations football qualifier against Angola, team coach Rahman Gumbo has said.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA SPORTS REPORTER
The Warriors, carrying what appears a healthy 3-1 lead from the first leg, are expected to leave for Luanda aboard a chartered plane this evening.
The Warriors are expected to meet President Robert Mugabe this afternoon before they leave for the make-or-break tie.
Gumbo, who has 30 players in camp fighting for 18 places, yesterday said he would not tinker much with the team that did the nation proud at Rufaro in the first leg.
“To be quite honest, there won’t be any major changes to the team. The guys who played in the first leg did a good job. In the second half we were a little bit down, but overall the team played well. We will have to correct one or two things, but there won’t be many changes in the line-up,” assured Gumbo.
Gumbo reckons his team has one foot into the finals, but he remains cautious.
“At the moment it looks like an advantage on paper, but the score can be overturned so we don’t need to relax. Angola are in a corner right now, they are in a desperate situation and we expect them to come out guns blazing.
“We expect them to search for an early goal, but that pressure they have we can turn it to our advantage. We are not going there to defend and that is one mistake we can’t afford to do,” he said.
Having been part of the fiery Dream Team that, however, on numerous occasions failed at the last hurdle, Gumbo does not want to repeat the same mistake.
“What happened then is history. This is a new team, a new game which needs a new approach altogether. We need to take a positive approach going there.”
Gumbo expects a tough battle in Angola, in and outside the pitch. The well-travelled coach, who has won championships in three different African countries, said he was prepared for any eventuality.
“I have told the players that it will be more of a psychological game than anything else. They have to be mentally strong; I want players who are ready to face anything,” Gumbo added.
From the training session that Gumbo has been conducting the whole week, Arial Sibanda looks a front runner for the goalkeeper’s position. Onismor Bhasera, Carlington Nyadombo, Esrom Nyandoro and Noel Kaseke are almost sure to start in defence.
Tinashe Nengomasha is set to return to his anchorman position and indications are that Gumbo will use two men here.
Vusa Nyoni is likely to partner Nengomasha with Archford Gutu playing just behind lone striker Knowledge Musona. The speedy pair of Khama Billiat and Edward Sadomba is set to provide width.
While Musona is a sure bet to start upfront, he is facing fierce competition from Kingston Nkhata, Cuthbert Malajila and Takesure Chinyama.
VETERAN midfielder Tinashe “Father” Nengomasha is confident the Warriors will win the right to play at next year’s finals..
The Bidvest Wits midfielder, who missed the first leg in Harare which the Warriors won 3-1, challenged his teammates to stay focused from the first whistle.
“It will be difficult as we will be playing away. We hear that the Angolans are planning to have their fans watch the match for free. But for us, the most important thing is to stay focused right from the first whistle.
“We need to achieve our objective, which is to qualify for the finals in South Africa.
“I must say that we have had good preparations and there is stiff competition among the players for jerseys.
“It’s good to see players competing for jerseys like that and coaches finding it difficult to pick the team. No player should be guaranteed a jersey and that is healthy for the team,” said Nengomasha.