WARRIORS assistant coach Peter Ndlovu has warned the national football team to guard against complacency ahead of the crucial 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final qualifying round second leg encounter away to Angola on Sunday.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO SPORTS REPORTER
The Warriors are just 90 minutes away from qualifying for only their third appearance at Afcon after securing a comfortable 3-1 victory over Angola in the first leg at Rufaro Stadium.
With the odds heavily in favour of the Warriors securing qualification at next year’s tournament in South Africa, Ndlovu said there was need for the players to make sure they finish the job in Angola.
“We might have a healthy lead, but as far as we are concerned, it’s not a done deal yet. We still have 90 more minutes to finish the job,” he said at the Warriors camp yesterday afternoon in an interview.
Ndlovu, who during his playing days with the Warriors had his fair share of near misses when it came to Afcon qualification with the Warriors before leading the national side to two Afcon tournaments, said he would only relax if the Warriors managed to score first in Luanda.
“I’ll be happy and relaxed when we go there and get the first goal. I’m sure we will have a good game plan pertaining to that. We will make sure we go there to play football and not to defend as it will only invite danger. We must go into the match as if we are playing at home and attack them so that they know we mean business,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu’s comments came after the national team players met for the first time since the first leg with the majority of the foreign- based players trooping into camp, including Germany-based striker Knowledge Musona and midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha (South Africa), who both missed the first leg.
The players who arrived yesterday took part in fitness and endurance tests which were conducted by fitness trainer Gerald Maguranyanga in the presence of the team’s entire technical staff and team doctor Nick Munyonga at the hotel swimming pool where the team is camped.
Musona, who played a blinder for his team Augsburg in their 3-1 win over Werder Bremen last Friday, was one of the first foreign- based players to report for camp after missing the first leg due to injury. The hero of the first leg, Ajax Cape Town slippery midfielder Khama Billiat, led the band of South Africa-based players.
Almost all the South Africa- based players had arrived yesterday except for veteran Mamelodi Sundowns utility player Esrom Nyandoro who was expected last night.
Other players who were at the team hotel yesterday included Moroka Swallows midfielder Oscar Machapa and the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Kingston Nkhata and Lincoln Zvasiya, who were recently cleared by the Zifa Ethics Committee investigating the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.
Sudan-based talismanic striker Edward Sadomba, who was also exonerated of any wrongdoing, is also already in the country after another fine display for Al Hilal in the Caf Confederation Cup on Friday.
Maritzburg United striker Cuthbert Malajila also made a welcome return to the national team in a development that should create more competition up front.
Forgotten goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro was also present, together with Swaziland-based fellow goalie Ephraim Mazarura and the duo of locals Ariel Sibanda and Maxwell Nyamupangedengu.
The quarter will battle for a place left vacant by the injury to influential skipper Tapuwa Kapini.
Ndlovu said he was confident that the new players who were recently exonerated from the Asiagate match-fixing scandal would add value to the side ahead of the crucial tie in Angola.
“Most of the players are here, which is pleasing. We are hoping to get everyone in camp by tonight (last night), so that we start the serious business. On the new players, all I can say is that every player is important Asiagate or no Asiagate, but the players who have come will definitely add value to the side,” he said.
According to team manager Nyika Chifamba, the Europe- based trio of Onismor Bhasera, Quincy Antipas and Noel Kaseke as well as Botswana-based Arnold Chaka were expected in the country last night.
He said he was confident that they would be available when the team holds its first training session this morning.
The team is expected to depart for Angola on Friday aboard a chartered flight which gives them three full days of training and another day to feel the match venue in Angola.
Mzansi90 @ $300 000
The Mzansi90 fundraising committee reached the $300 000 mark last night after receiving $20 000 from BancABC and $10 000 from CBZ Bank.
Committee chairperson George Manyaya said: “We received $20 000 from BancABC, $10 000 from CBZ Bank, $5 000 from Farai Jere’s Helcraw and $1 000 from Aces Youth Academy. We are still appealing to the corporate sector to assist so that we reach our target of $500 000 because we need that chartered flight to Angola.”
Mbada Diamonds Holdings have poured in $200 000, ZMDC $30 000, Buymore Investments $10 000 and Cuthbert Dube, the Zifa president, $5 000 while various companies have come in with groceries, accommodation and transport pledges.
A total of 30 supporters will get free tickets from Mzansi90 of which 12 will be members of the brass band to cheer up the team while 16 will come from the Premier Soccer League clubs, who will provide one each. Supporters liaison officer Simeon Jamanda said the rest of the fans will pay $600 to secure passage to Luanda.