REIGNING Confederations of African Football (Caf) African Coach of the Year, Pitso Mosimane has tipped the Warriors to shine at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, which kick-off in Gabon on Saturday.
BY HENRY MHARA
Mosimane said the Kalisto Pasuwa-coached side have a good chance to progress past the group stages.
Zimbabwe are in the ultra-tough Group B, with Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
While the group appears frightening on paper, Mosimane, who coaches Warriors star man, Khama Billiat at Mamelodi Sundowns, believes the Warriors cannot be counted out.
He wants Pasuwa’s team to use Sundowns’ success in the Caf Champions League, where they won the cup, when few gave them a chance, as a motivating factor heading into the competition.
“I told Khama that with Sundowns, we too were never given a chance in our group, but we did it,” Mosimane told a South African publication.
“Zimbabwe can progress even as they are grouped with tough teams like Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal. These teams can easily cancel each other out. You just have to avoid being whipping boys.”
Mosimane was crowned Africa’s best coach last week, on a day Billiat lost out to his teammate, goalkeeper Dennis Onyango in the Caf award for best player based in Africa.
The Warriors will open their Afcon account with a match against Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria in Franceville on Sunday before taking on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia the following Thursday.
They will conclude their group matches with a clash against Sadio Mane’s Senegal four days later.
Pasuwa’s men left for Cameroon on Sunday for a friendly match against the hosts set for this evening.
While the Warriors are using the match to fine-tune their squad for the tournament, team captain, Willard Katsande said they won’t reveal all their secrets in the match.
The team left on Sunday following a storm on Friday and Saturday, with players declining to leave the country due to an impasse over allowances and bonuses.
The players, who were reportedly paid $1 500 each, are demanding an appearance fee of $5 000 per player for each match at Afcon, and $400 in foreign daily allowances.
The two parties signed an agreement, where Zifa pledged to pay the money by Thursday, failure to which the players have threatened to boycott the tournament.
The players are also pressing for a $6 000 winning bonus, an amount, which would increase by $2 000 with every stage they reach.
Zifa, on the other hand, was offering the footballers $500 in appearance fees and $50 in local daily allowances and $150 in foreign daily allowances.
The stand-off saw the team missing their scheduled flight to Cameroon on the same night, but after a series of meetings in which Zifa finally bowed to the demands, the players finally agreed to board the plane.
“We have resolved our differences and so we should unite as a nation. We are going out there to fight with everything we have. Our objective is to go all the way, but the first priority is to qualify for the next stage and then take each game as it comes. We have the quality to match other teams and achieve our objective, what we need is everyone’s support,” Katsande said before the team’s departure.