The Warriors face a tough task when they take on Congo Brazzaville in their Group G Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier on September 9 in Brazzaville.
BY Kevin Mapasure
Even though the Congolese side has failed to qualify for the Afcon finals over the years, they have developed into quite a strong outfit of late and only missed out on qualifying for the 2017 finals by a single point after garnering nine points, while Guinea Bissau who went to Gabon 2017 had 10.
Zimbabwe will go to Congo searching for a win that would further enhance their chances of making it to the finals as one of the two qualifiers from their group, having kicked off with a win over Liberia last year.
Zimbabwe currently sit on top of the group, only due to a superior goal difference compared to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who are in second spot having beaten Congo Brazzaville 3-1 in their first match of the qualifiers.
DRC and Zimbabwe are the favourites to qualify from this group, but Congo Brazzaville do pose a threat.
In their last qualifiers, they were in the same Group as Guinea Bissau, Zambia and Kenya.
They managed two wins over Guinea Bissau and Kenya, while they played out three draws and a single defeat to the eventual group winners away from home.
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But as Sunday Chidzambga and his men leave for Congo on September 7, they will go there with the knowledge that they will be facing a side that has proved to be difficult to beat in their own backyard.
In the last qualifiers, Congo Brazzaville went unbeaten in their home matches, collecting seven points from a possible nine, a record that is proof of how big a task the Warriors have.
While the Warriors technical team have been met with frustrations over the availability of Europe-based players that have Zimbabwean roots and want to represent the country, there are no such problems for Congo Brazzaville, who draw the bulk of their squad from Europe.
A number of their players ply their trade in the French second-tier and some of them were born in that country.
They have some players that include striker Prince Alban Oriangue, Bel Dural Avounou and Arnold Bouka Mouton all playing in the French top-flight.
Oriangue and Avounou both play for Caen in the France Ligue 1, while Mouton plays for Dijon in the same division.
They also have striker Dylan Bahamboula, who plays his club football for Romania’s top-flight club Astra Guiru, who currently sit third on the league table.
In addition to that, they boast of a La Liga representative in midfielder Merveil Valthy Streeker Ndocky, who plays for Getafe.
They draw a handful of the players from their domestic league, with some players based in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, Turkey and Greece, among other European countries.
They seem to fish mainly from France where at least half of the squad are drawn from, particularly in the second-tier, where injured Warriors striker Tino Kadewere is now based.
Zimbabwe do not boast of many players playing in Europe, but have proved to be a strong side which has a good chance to make it to their second Afcon finals in as many finals. Only Knowledge Musona, based in Belgium, and Alec Mudimu, who plays in the Welsh top-tier, are coming from Europe.
A bid to have the duo of Tendayi Darikwa and Adam Chicksen, who are born of Zimbabwean parents, but are British nationals, for this match has faltered over the issuance of passports by local authorities.
Czech Republic-based defender Costa Nhamoinesu has been removed from the list as he is injured.
Nyasha Mushekwi, who is enjoying a good run of scoring form, is unlikely to make it either, even though he is representing his club in the Chinese top-flight.