WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa has used last weekend’s Cosafa Cup quarter-final shock results to warn his players on what could happen if they were to underrate Lesotho who they meet at Moruleng Stadium in North West Province, South Africa, tonight.
BY HENRY MHARA IN SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA
Kick-off time is 7:30pm.
The match precedes semi-final one between Zambia and Tanzania, which starts at 5pm.
To qualify for the semis, Zimbabwe, who have been arguably the best team so far in this tournament, managed to avoid a humbling with a 2-1 win over Swaziland after both South Africa, the defending champions, and 2015 winners Namibia were dumped out in shock defeats to Tanzania and Lesotho, respectively.
Chidzambwa is worried that his men could also be in for a surprise today if they don’t get their act together.
“Lesotho are a good side, they beat Namibia and, to me, that was a very big surprise. But on a good day, we can easily go past them, that is if we guard against complacency.
“Our biggest challenge in this match is complacency, but on our day, we can beat them. They defend well, and have one very good striker and also their left winger, so we need to look out for those guys and make sure they don’t get near our goal.”
Zimbabwe, having taken this tournament by storm, scoring an incredible 12 goals in the four matches they have played so far, will naturally start as favourites against a Lesotho side who huffed and puffed against Namibia.
History also favours Zimbabwe, who have dominated their previous meetings with Lesotho.
They have clashed 17 times since their first meeting on September 6, 1981 in a friendly match, with the Warriors going on to win on 13 occasions, drawing four times and losing just once.
Their most recent meeting in a competitive match was on July 17, 2013 in a Cosafa match, when Zimbabwe won 2-1.
Since then, they have played two friendly matches, Zimbabwe winning one and drawing the other.
But Chidzambwa does not want to look much into statistics.
“Nowadays each and every team is difficult. Teams have improved a lot, so you never know what they have in store for us. We need to play well, fight hard, get our attitude right and make sure we concentrate for the entire 90 minutes.
“In previous matches we did well, but that is now history, this is a new game altogether. We really need to pull up our socks and make sure we get through to the next round.”
While the Warriors have done so well this far, there is no denial that it is the captain Ovidy Karuru who has lit up the tournament with six goals and two man of the match accolades to show for it.
“So far he (Karuru) has done very well and we’re proud of him. He has proved his critics wrong,” Chidzambwa reckons.
Before leaving Harare, the ZPC Kariba coach spoke about reaching the final as the team’s main objective, and he feels they are well on course.
“We have gone past the difficult games and we are left with just one. We just hope and pray that God helps us to get to the final. I would be happy if we get to the final. People back home should pray for us so that we can have a good semi-final match and qualify to the final.”
After the players were given time off on Monday following their win on Sunday night, they were back at training yesterday morning to prepare for tonight’s match.
“Today’s (yesterday) training was about loosening up, we couldn’t do anything strenuous because of the number of games we have played in a few days. So we just did some jogging and stretching,” Chidzambwa said.
He said he was unlikely to make many changes to the team that played in the previous match.
He reported a clean bill of health in his squad, with defender Jameson Mukombwe, who missed the team’s last two matches with a tight muscle, the only one struggling.
The roving right-back did some light training yesterday and will have to pass a late fitness test.
Warriors probable line-up
G Chigova, E Chipeta, L Chakoroma, J Tigere, H Moyo, G Takwara, I Mucheneka, O Mushure, O Karuru, T Chawapiwa, P Dube