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Pasuwa unfazed by EPL stars

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Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa is not worried about the prospect of his charges coming up against some of the big names in football at the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals kicking off on January 14 in Gabon.

BY Kevin Mapasure

Khama Billiat at a training  session in Harare yesterday
Khama Billiat at a training session in Harare yesterday

Zimbabwe will come up against big reputations, especially in the English Premier Soccer League stars such as Liverpool and Senegal striker, Sadio Mane, his captain, Cheikou Kouyate, who plays for West Ham, as well as the Leicester duo of Riyad Mahrez and forward Islam Slimani.

Senegal and Algeria, who are Zimbabwe’s Group B rivals, together with Tunisia, have several players plying their trade in the French top-flight league and are favourites to advance to the knock-out stages.

But Pasuwa said his troops should not dwell on reputations instead seize the opportunity to build their own profiles and break into the big European leagues.

“In football, if you consider names you will falter,” he told reporters after the team’s morning training session yesterday.

“If you do everything right, have the correct attitude and not think about names, you give yourself a chance of succeeding. We do not have many players playing in Europe, but this is the chance for the boys to do well and break into the top leagues. I believe we have the quality to match those teams that have players who are quite prominent.”

Mane has been hitting the headlines since his move to Liverpool and has scored nine goals in 19 appearances for the Reds, who sit on second position on the league table after 20 matches.

Mahrez, on the other hand, has not played as he did last season, where he inspired Leicester to the maiden league title, but will still carry a big threat with his ability to score and assist others.

The Warriors will arrive in Gabon with a small profile, but Pasuwa wants to see his players leave a mark at the tournament.

Zimbabwe only have defender, Costa Nhamoinesu of Sparta Prague, Marvelous Nakamba of Vitesse in the Netherlands, Knowledge Musona based in Belgium and forward Tino Kadewere of Djugardens in Sweden, as the players plying their trade in Europe.

Pasuwa said he expects his team to go and improve on the 2004 and 2006 performances, where the Warriors fell at the group stages on both occasions.

“We have been knocked out of the group stages, so we are saying to the boys lets go out there and improve on what we produced in the last two occasions. Our aim is to pass the groups then we will see what more we can achieve.”

With the final squad of 23 players set to be named today, Pasuwa said he was pleased with the attitude the players had exhibited at training.

“The attitude has been very good, we have had all the boys today expect Musona, who should joining camp this afternoon and during all the training session it has been high intensity you can see that the boys are really determined to go out there and do well.”

By yesterday, Pasuwa had 26 players in camp and will axe three, having already dropped defender Tendai Ndlovu and midfielders Lewis Kutinyu, Talent Chawapihwa and Ronald Chitiyo.

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