WARRIORS skipper Masimba Mambare believes Lesotho will not be easy opponents when they face them in the semi-finals of the Cosafa Castle Cup football tournament at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium tomorrow evening.
FROM WELLINGTON TONI IN KITWE
Mambare scored Zimbabwe’s goal when they drew 1-1 with Malawi, but the Warriors won the penalty lottery 3-1 at Nkoloma Stadium on Saturday.
But after watching Lesotho come from a goal down to force a 1-1 draw with Angola before eventually winning the penalty shootout 5-3 at Nkana Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the attacking midfielder believes they could be ambushed.
“They play a very compact game, using the midfield and avoid using the wings. They have two midfielders that come straight at the defence supporting the other two strikers. So we have to watch them very carefully.
“It will not be an easy match and you see that the crowd was backing them. We are the defending champions so we have to fight,” Mambare said after the Malawi match.
Zimbabwe did not play well against Malawi, and lacked the cutting edge in attack and deadball situations which might lead to some changes for tomorrow’s match, with Nicholas Alifandika, who missed the Flames match, back in the frame.
Silas Songani and Nicholas Guyo are suspects and one of them, if the Warriors entertain any hopes of successfully defending the title they won on home soil in 2009, should be dropped in favour of Ali Sadiki.
The FC Platinum man is a proven deadball specialist and with Lesotho preferring more central play than wing attacks, he would fit in well with roving Dynamos left-back Ocean Mushure to open gaps at the Likwena defence.
Even the presence of Lot Chiwunga and Last Chibwiro raised a few eyebrows when the Warriors made their substitutions in the second half when it was clear Zimbabwe were under immense pressure from Malawi.
The Warriors trained at Nkana Stadium yesterday morning, but Hardlife Zvirekwi was not part of the session while anchorman Devon Chafa also sat out the training as precautionary measures after they picked up knocks during the Malawi match.
Team manager Patrick Mutesva said: “These are just precautionary measures and they will continue to be assessed by the medical team since we have another full day of training tomorrow (today) at the match venue. We will also train this afternoon (yesterday at 3pm).
“Nicholas Alifandika is back in training as well.”
Speaking after the session, Warriors coach Klaus Dieter Pagels said depending on the injuries, he might be forced to make some changes to the staring 11 for Lesotho.
“We will see how the boys shape up. It will all depend on the injuries, but at least Alifandika is fit and back in training. I don’t have a starting line-up right now so we will talk about Sadiki when we have the final line-up,” Pagels said, when also asked on high number of deadball situations wasted in the match against Malawi.
On the opponents, he said: “Lesotho are strong and physically tough with two good midfielders and they prefer to use long balls. So as you saw from the training today (yesterday), we were trying to see how we can defend that long ball which they use in attack and then try to build up our own attack from the back.
“The level of confidence is much better in the team now after the win over Malawi.”
Zimbabwe’s man-of-the-match against Malawi Ronald Chitiyo was also rested yesterday morning. The Monomotapa playmaker has caught the attention of scouts from Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town in South Africa where he has previously gone for trials.
Lesotho also had a morning workout yesterday with coach Leslie Notsi expressing confidence over his team’s chances in the semi-
finals on the artificial turf at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
Lesotho Football Association technical director Seephephe “Mochini” Matete had, before the win over Angola, congratulated Notši and his charges for qualifying for the next round.
“The good thing that I have seen during the three Cosafa matches is that we have a strong team, which has fighting spirit and is always soldiering on until the last minute,” Matete said.
Matete, however, said Notši and his technical team “lack game analysis and we are unable to quickly point out our weakness during the match”.
Thapelo “Nana” Tale walked away with the man-of-the-match award after Lesotho’s opening game against Kenya last Monday, which ended 2-2.
Interim captain Ralekoti Mokhahlane scooped the man-of-the-match award in both the Botswana and Swaziland matches and will be the man to watch for the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the semi-finals of the plate competition take place in Kitwe today with both matches being played at the Arthur Davies Stadium.
Malawi will tackle Angola in the first plate semi-final (kick-off 3pm), while Mozambique are up against Namibia (kick-off 5pm).