BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS players are ready to finish off the job by beating Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow, in a battle that many of them have described as the most important game of their careers.
The two nations meet in the decisive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) group G qualifier, whose outcome could bring joy or heartbreak to the millions of Zimbabwe’s football followers.
Currently topping the group on eight points, the Warriors just need to avoid a defeat to book their place at the finals set for Egypt this June.
They can still sneak through even with a defeat, but that would depend on results from elsewhere. The Warriors players want to do the job themselves.
“This is one of the biggest games in my career,” contends Wales-based defender Alec Mudimu.
“Its moments like these that everyone works hard for, it’s a major tournament that everyone wants to compete in. It builds the nation and it builds the players individually. To qualify for this tournament is huge. It will be a dream come true for every one that is involved.”
Mudimu has been an integral part of the team in this campaign, playing all the matches to put the Warriors on the brink of qualification. He knows what they need to do against a tricky Congo side to get over the line.
“We need to be very disciplined like we did against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) away game. We did very well there, we did the simple things very well. We will need to keep our shape every time and when it’s time to move the ball quick, we will have to do that, and when we are supposed to slow the play down, we will do just that. We need also to take our chances, we can’t take Congo Brazzaville too lightly, we still need to go forward and score goals. I expect every one of us to work very hard to get the team over the line,” Mudimu said.
Warriors vice-captain Ovidy Karuru said qualifying to the final would see him achieve a lifelong dream.
“I have never played at the Afcon, and this is a chance and a game that will take me there. So, if I get a chance to play, I will go out there ready to lose a limb because this is the most important game of my career which can take me where I have never been before. It could be a stepping stone in my career,” Karuru confessed.
“I’m one of the seniors in the team and this is probably our last chance to play at Afcon. I wouldn’t want to retire without playing at this stage.”
Left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai is also dreaming of playing at the continental showpiece.
“This match is the most crucial in the campaign because it will decide whether we will be happy or are sad at the end of it all. We have done well so far and people are very pleased for us, but it can all change after this match. We have to be very careful, remain calm and focused. Congo are a good team, and we expect a tough game. We will have to show character, and to show the opponents that we are playing at our home.”
Goalkeeper George Chigova is expected to return to his position after missing the away trip due to an injury. Tendai Darikwa who was suspended for the DRC match, should also reclaim his right back position, as should defensive midfielder Danny Phiri.
Without the injured Marvellous Nakamba, coach Sunday Chidzambga would have to choose between Marshall Munetsi and Butholezwe Ncube to fill in that gap.
Warriors probable starting line up
G Chigova, T Darikwa, T Hadebe, A Mudimu, R Pfumbidzai, M Munetsi, D Phiri, O Karuru, K Billiat, K Musona, T Kadewere