THE senior national men’s football team, the Warriors, are expected to leave the country this morning for South Africa where they will compete in the African Nations Cup (Chan) tournament which kicks off on Saturday.
BY HENRY MHARA
The tournament, designed exclusively for players in their domestic leagues, will run until February 1.
Zimbabwe, who would be making their third appearance at the tournament, hard-pressed to better their past performances where they failed to go past the group stages, are in Group B where they will face Morocco, Burkina Faso and Uganda. The Ian Gorowa-coached side will begin their campaign with what appears a tough match against the Atlas
Lions of Morocco on Sunday. Kick-off time for this match is 1700hrs.
All Group B matches would be played at Cape Town’s Athlone Stadium. Zimbabwe would then engage Uganda four days later at 1700hrs, before concluding their group matches with a tie against Burkina Faso on January 20 at 1900hrs. “The team is leaving tomorrow morning (today) on a 7am flight. The delegation has 23 players and nine officials,” said team manager Sharrif Mussa yesterday.
Ahead of the trip, the Warriors played a practice match against Dynamos at Gwanzura Stadium yesterday morning, winning the game 2-0 with Simba Sithole of Dynamos scoring both goals for the national team.
“All the players are fit, no injuries in camp and everyone is looking forward to the tournament. We promise the nation that we will perform to the best of our abilities and we want the nation to support us.
“We are still appealing to individuals, the corporate world and the government to support us financially and in kind so that we can motivate the players.
But most importantly we want the nation to pray for us as we embark on this journey. With everyone’s support I’m confident we will do well,” added Mussa.
The government, through the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture has already poured in $88 000 for the campaign.
Upon arrival in Johannesburg this morning, the Warriors are expected to conduct a training session before engaging Gabon in a friendly match at the Rand Stadium tomorrow. The team would then proceed to Cape Town where they would be based.
Another friendly match against Cape Town has been confirmed for Thursday, three days before the Warriors face the North Africans.
Captain Patson Jaure has described his team as the best and says the first match is a “must win” encounter.
“We are a selection of the coach’s best players and we will qualify for the knockout stages,” Jaure told our sister paper, The Standard this week.
“We have been working very hard for this tournament. We have to win the first game against Morocco at all costs to boost our confidence for the next games.”
Midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo, one of the stars of the team concurred, saying the team would be looking to surpass where their predecessors failed.
Zimbabwe previously qualified for the inaugural tournament in Ivory Coast in 2009 under Sunday Chidzambwa before the 2011 edition under Madinda Ndlovu in Sudan, failing to make the knockout stages on both occasions.
“Our wish is to see the team making it to the final and probably win the tournament. We have the quality to do that and we have the motivation to play at this tournament. This is our chance to shine and attract potential suitors from abroad,” Moyo said.
He added: “It’s a tough group, but we expected it because all the teams are strong. We will try to make our own history by qualifying for the knockout stages and we will take it from there. It would be tough, no doubt about that; but if we can make it past the group stages, then we will go all the way.”
While Zimbabwe will be making their third appearance at the Chan finals, it would be a second one for Uganda whose debut in Khartoum ended in a group stage exit. Morocco and Burkina Faso are gracing the tournament for the first time with the Stallions returning to the scene of their memorable showing at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations where they finished as runners-up to Nigeria and will be hoping to replicate the performance.
Goalkeepers: G Chigova, T Dube, M Diya.
Defenders: O Machapa, H Zvirekwi, A Mbara, M Ncube, F Chindungwe, T Ndlovu, E Chipeta, P Jaure.
Midfielders: M Mambare, T Muparati, D Phiri, P Manhanga, C Sibanda, K Mahachi, Ali Sadiki, P Moyo,
Strikers: S Sithole (How Mine), N Mazivisa, D Ngoma, S Sithole (Dynamos)