BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS star striker Tino Kadewere is ready to redeem himself if given the chance to play against Congo Brazzaville in tomorrow’s decisive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier at the National Sports Stadium.
The France-based striker was the villain when Zimbabwe lost 1-0 away to Liberia in the last qualifying match, missing a glut of chances which, if he had converted, the Warriors could have sealed their qualification to the tournament finals.
He got a lot of criticism from the Warriors fans, with some even going to the extent of threatening to physically harm the player.
The game in Liberia was his first competitive match after coming back from an eight-month injury lay-off.
Kadewere has since fully recovered and has been in top form for his French Ligue 2 side Le Havre, scoring crucial goals.
The 23-year-old is hoping that coach Sunday Chidzambga will pick him to start against Congo tomorrow so that he can show his worth to the team.
“That is football, and as players we are used to it (criticism). As a player, you experience those kind of things, because you can’t play well in all the games. You will have one bad game and the good thing to do is to come back strong from that bad match, so I have been working hard and I’m ready to come back on Sunday. I’m sure I’m going to give my best. I will give 120% in everything that I’m going to do,” Kadewere said.
“Lately, I have been playing well and I’m hoping to bring that form to the Warriors, and as a player I think I’m ready and I have been working and training really hard for it.”
Zimbabwe need just a point in this qualifier to seal their qualification to the finals set for Egypt in June this year, but the dreadlocked striker wants to finish the campaign in style.
“This game is the biggest match I will play in my career because obviously the nation is more important than every other team and I would like to make everyone in the country proud. Not just me, but all the players want to make the nation proud so we are not going to take this game lightly. We are treating it as a cup final and I’m sure we are going to get the victory.
“We know we need a draw, but we don’t want to put that in our mind because if we tell ourselves that we need a draw, we are going to relax and we don’t want that. This a cup final so we need to win and qualify with a bang. We need to finish on a high note, make our fans very happy because we know they are coming in their numbers and for them to be happy.”
He reckons that playing at the finals will open doors for players in the squad to join major leagues abroad. The bulk of the Warriors players ply their trade in South Africa.
“Qualifying for the finals means a lot to us because it is one of the best tournaments in the world, and for us being there last time we need to go back again. It is also good for the other players who are yet to reach the greener pastures. For some of us, this is a chance for the big teams to look at us so it’s important to qualify and play in that tournament.”