BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS defender Tendayi Darikwa has dedicated the team’s victory over Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium and the subsequent Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals qualifications to the victims of the Cyclone Idai which, close to two weeks ago, destroyed hundreds of lives and left a trail of destruction in Chimanimani and other eastern parts of the country.
Zimbabwe won the match 2-0 after first half goals from Khama Billiat and captain Knowledge Musona to seal their qualification to the Afcon finals set to be hosted by Egypt this June.
But the match was played under a sombre atmosphere after a cyclone-induced catastrophe left at least 260 people dead and 217 unaccounted for, while over 16 000 households have been destroyed or displaced, according to a report by the International Organisation for Migration.
Aid agencies say the death toll would most likely rise.
Darikwa said the victory was for the victims, and those whose lives have been changed forever after losing everything in the disaster.
“I want to say thank you to the people of Zimbabwe, they came out today and unfortunately there are some who couldn’t make it and to all the people who were affected by the cyclone, this is for them. Our hearts are with them,” Darikwa said.
Yesterday, the team wore black armbands and observed a minute of silence before kick-off to honour those who perished.
Darikwa, born in England to Zimbabwean expatriate parents, and chose to play for Zimbabwe, feels he made the right decision.
He was thrilled with the team’s qualification.
“This is an amazing feeling. I will remember this for the rest of my life. The supporters today were brilliant, the atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic, I have never experienced this in my career. I was also impressed with the team, the players… with the amount of pressure that was there, to go out there and score two goals in the first half in front of a full stadium, I think we deserve it.”
Darikwa said the team will now have to start preparing for the finals, where he is hoping they will make a mark, having failed to go beyond the group stages in all their previous appearances at the showpiece.
“We have to go back to our clubs, play well and get ready for the big tournament in Egypt and make a difference. We qualified for a reason, because we are a good team. Of course we can improve, and we need to work well with the technical team and I believe we will do well.”