ZIMBABWE, under new coach Ian Gorowa, will seek a brilliant start when they face Mauritius at the George V Stadium in the capital Port Louis tomorrow in the first leg of the African Nations Championships (Chan).
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI
The Warriors arrived in Mauritius on Thursday evening and are staying at the Golden Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes, just outside the capital.
They had two training sessions yesterday and are expected to have a feel of the match venue later today.
The Warriors are seeking a third appearance at the competition, developed by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for locally-based players, only after making appearances in 2009 and 2011.
Gorowa, formerly a special assistant coach with the Warriors, took over on Tuesday and had two training sessions 24 hours later before the team departed for the island nation on Thursday. He replaced German Klaus Dieter Pagels and becomes Zimbabwe’s seventh coach in three years.
Without continuity, chances of success are always limited, but after reaching the Cosafa Castle Cup final against Zambia last weekend, Gorowa sounded optimistic on the eve of the Warriors’ departure, despite the limited time he had with the team.
He was with the Warriors for the duration of the Cosafa championships in Zambia and would obviously bank on his assistants Kalisto Pasuwa and Jairos Tapera to provide him with detailed information on the players he has selected for the trip, while he has also done his technical analysis of Mauritius.
And statistics, from past clashes between the two teams, point to an easy start for Gorowa. The two teams have met six times since independence with the Warriors winning five of those encounters while Mauritius managed one win.
Mauritius though won their only encounter on August 29, 1982 following a 2-0 victory at home in the Indian Ocean games. But seven years later Zimbabwe emerged triumphant in a 4-1 rout in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in April 1989. They followed that up with a 1-0 win on April 23 the same year in the second leg of the Afcon qualifier.
Zimbabwe overcame the Indian Ocean side again 1-0 in their own backyard on August 30, 1992. The following year in July, Zimbabwe won 2-0 in Harare. They last met in 2009 with the Warriors emerging triumphant again following a 3-0 victory.
“They use a 4-1-4-1 system which they later change and use three attackers. They are quick going forward. They have a left-footed midfielder, who is their best player. But with all due respect, we don’t expect much of an opposition from Mauritius.
“They can be difficult, but the good thing is we are playing away in the first leg and we can afford to risk and we can always make some adjustments when we play them here,” said Gorowa before departure.
Gorowa has had to deal with a lot of changes in his new side after Ocean Mushure and Ronald Chitiyo were ruled out due to injury while goalkeeper Max Nyamupanedengu was dropped.
Caps United veteran number one Tafadzwa Dube is now favourite to assume the first team jersey ahead of Highlanders’ Munyaradzi Diya, while the returning Patson Jaure could partner Felix Chindungwe in central defence. Eric Chipeta, though, had formed a good partnership in the centre with the Chicken Inn hardman and seemed to lose the plot when pushed to the right.
This might force Gorowa to use the versatile Jaure on the right and his teammate at Dynamos, Augustine Mbara, on the left wing back. Masimba Mambare and Devon Chafa will be key in midfield with Charles Sibanda and Silas Songani likely to occupy the left and right sides respectively of the midfield. Tawanda Muparati would then take a position as the second striker to Nelson Maziwisa.
The hosts will be no pushovers as coach Akbar Patel has maintained the same team that took part in the Cosafa Championships which had experienced players like veteran skipper Colin Bell, Fabrice Pithia and Christopher Bazerque. Youngsters Gurty Calambe and Cedric Permal have also been kept in the team that will seek to minimise any damage from the Warriors and then come to Harare to defend.
Meanwhile, fresh from a Cosafa victory hangover, Zambia play Botswana in the same competition this afternoon.
Chipolopolo coach Hervé Renard told MTN Football that the game would be difficult especially after setting the standard a week ago.
“We have to be strong over there,” Renard said. “It will be very difficult to play over there you know.
“The players already know it will be a very difficult and tough game especially after winning something. It is difficult to reconnect with motivation faced with a different target.”
And the winner of the first leg tie will face either Zimbabwe or Mauritius in the final second qualifying round at a date to be announced by Caf.
Possible Warriors X1
Tafadzwa Dube, Patson Jaure, Augustine Mbara, Eric Chipeta, Felix Chindungwe, Devon Chafa, Masimba Mambare, Charles Sibanda, Dominic Chungwa, Tawanda Muparati, Nelson Maziwisa