THE national senior men’s soccer team, the Warriors, were last night expected to leave the country early this morning for the African Nations Championships (Chan) tournament in Rwanda, aiming to surpass their previous performances.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe have participated in all three editions since inauguration in 2009 with their best showing coming in 2010 in South Africa when they reached the semi-finals.
Coach Kalisto Pasuwa said though he did not get the ideal preparations for the tournament owing to injuries and lack of an international tune-up match, he expressed confidence of a positive outing out in Kigali.
The former Dynamos coach was expected to lead his troops out of the country early today ahead of their Group D opening match against neighbours Zambia on Tuesday. The tournament kicks off this afternoon and will run until February 7.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela confirmed the team’s departure.
“The team is leaving at around 2am tomorrow (today) and their expected time of arrival is midday,” Gwesela said.
The Warriors will play against Uganda next Saturday before concluding their group matches against Mali.
While all the group opponents have been playing preparatory matches ahead of the tournament reserved for players playing in their respective local leagues, Pasuwa and his Warriors could only play local club Harare City.
Pasuwa, who selected what appears a very strong and balanced squad for the tournament with the country’s top stars making the trip, is not entirely worried.
“As a coach and also as a nation, we want to go there and fare well, not to make up the numbers. We want to go and produce a good result and reach maybe where people can say we have done better,” Pasuwa said early this week.
The Warriors were initially supposed to play Cameroon and Mozambique in friendly matches, but the plans failed to materialise.
“We didn’t play a friendly match and we did play against Harare City and you find that some players will be very excellent in a friendly, but in a real game situation they become a different player. Maybe in my case, I would say the first (friendly) match is against Zambia. It will be my first friendly match and I am going to give more motivation to the boys to come up with a good result against Zambia,” Pasuwa added.
The team had their last training session yesterday and had a farewell party at a local hotel last night.
Warriors travelling squad:
Goalkeepers: Tatenda Mukuruva, Donovan Bernard, Elvis Chipezeze.
Defenders: Stephen Mukatuka, Blessing Moyo, Bruce Kangwa, Ocean Mushure, Elisha Muroiwa, Lawrence Mhlanga, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Farai Madhananga.
Midfielders: Nqobizitha Masuku, Ronald Chitiyo, Raphael Manuvire, Marshall Mudehwe, William Manondo, Gerald Takwara, Joel Ngodzo.
Forwards: Rodreck Mutuma, Edmore Chirambadare, Francisco Zikumbawire, Knox Mutizwa, Moses Demera.