WARRIORS goalkeeper George Chigova wants Zimbabwe to wrap up the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign as soon as possible, saying leaving it late into the last qualifier could be disastrous.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Warriors yet again produced a brilliant performance in the 1-1 draw against fancied Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the National Sports Stadium on Tuesday night.
“It’s very unfortunate that we drew against DRC, but it was a very good point. They are a very good side and although we are disappointed as a team because we played well and deserved to win the match, a point is not a bad result. The (2-1) win away to DRC was the decisive result. It made our task easier, but we should not take the remaining games for granted. We will have to work hard to get the desired result,” Chigova said.
He lasted half an hour in the Tuesday match, before he was substituted for Edmore Sibanda, because of an injury.
“We are very close and the sooner we get it done, the better. We don’t want to leave it late, so we will have to try and get the result against Liberia. We also have Congo-Brazzaville still to play, but we want to play that match with our ticket already in the back pocket. Playing the last match needing a result will put us under pressure, and could be dangerous,” the big goalkeeper added.
Poster boy Khama Billiat struck inside the opening minute of the match to give the hosts the lead, but an own goal by Teenage Hadebe midway through the first half ensured a share of spoils by the two teams — both heavily tipped to qualify from the group.
The result saw Zimbabwe keeping their place top of Group G, with eight points after four rounds of matches, while DRC remained second with five.
A win would have seen Zimbabwe through to the finals because Congo-Brazzaville lost 2-1 in Liberia in the other Group G match.
The results in Monrovia left Liberia and Congo-Brazzaville tied on four points with all the teams having a realistic chance of qualifying for the finals.
With the group winner and runners-up guaranteed a place at the continental football showpiece set for Cameroon next June, it is Zimbabwe, though, who have what looks like an easy task in their bid to book a ticket.
While the other teams will need to win their matches and hope for other results to go their way for them to qualify, for Sunday Chidzambga’s men, a point from their two remaining matches will be enough to secure them one of the two tickets.
Zimbabwe travel to Monrovia on the week of November 12-20, and if they can get a draw in that match, they would qualify and at the same time eliminate Liberia from the race.
That would leave DRC and Congo-Brazzaville to fight for the remaining ticket of the group.
If Zimbabwe lose the match, they will need at least a point at home against Congo-Brazzaville in their last match of the campaign next March.
But getting a point in Liberia is not a given and Chidzambga and his men will be aware of this.
They might be donating points away from home, as they lost all two away matches in this campaign, against Zimbabwe (3-0) and Congo-Brazzaville (3-1), but they are a different beast altogether on their backyard.
DRC needed a late equaliser to get a point there, while Congo-Brazzaville did not know what hit them on Tuesday, falling 2-0 behind in the opening 15 minutes, before scoring a consolation.
Zimbabwe, though, have been punching above their weight in this campaign, and the return of skipper Knowledge Musona, who missed the Tuesday match due to suspension, should give them enough fire-power to win in Liberia and qualify with a match to spare.
Musona, whose first international goal came in Monrovia almost a decade ago when the Warriors played out to a 1-1 draw, has been enjoying a rich vein of form, and was the top goalscorer of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers before the Tuesday round of matches.
Defender Alec Mudimu, who was also suspended for the last match, would be back.
Chidzambga will also be hoping that some of his stars, who missed the back-to-back clashes with DRC due to injuries, in particular defender Costa Nhamoinesu and striker Tino Kadewere, would have fully recovered.