BY HENRY MHARA
Warriors defender Alec Mudimu believes the team is well-equipped to make it to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations finals (Afcon) which kick-off in Egypt in less than a month.
This will be the fourth time that Zimbabwe will be participating at the continental showpiece. In their previous appearances they have failed to go beyond the group stages.
But the Wales-based defender is backing the current Warriors team to emerge as the biggest surprise package at this year’s tournament, and make history in the process.
“We have a great group of players who are playing at the highest international stage. I personally think with everything done right we can go very far,” Mudimu predicted.
Zimbabwe are in Group A together with hosts Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. And with the top two teams from each group advancing to the round of 16, Mudimu is backing the Warriors to go through.
Even with a third place finish the Sunday Chidzambga-coached side can still go to the next stage depending on outcome of other groups.
The Warriors begin their campaign against Mohamed Salah’s Pharaohs on June 21 in the tournament curtain raiser.
Despite the tough group, the Warriors star believes their chances are as good as any other team in the pool.
“It’s as challenging as any other draw in my opinion. We only focus one game at a time and as always give our everything. We have as good a chance as averyone else, but we all need to focus. We need to give our everything, and prepare properly. The team has a great combination of youth and experience. In my opinion, we have the right balance so quarterfinals are a possibility.”
The gangly centre back is expected to play a huge part in the tournament and one of his main duties will be to try to keep the superstar Salah quiet in the opening match.
“It’s an amazing match to be involved in. I’m very humbled to be going to face such a player of great calibre, but as always once we step onto the pitch I have a job to do and that will be done to the best of my ability . . . whatever it takes,” Mudimu added.
He was one of the first players to report for camp choosing to fly to Harare last week, putting aside contract negotiations with his Welsh club Cefn Druids.
Mudimu’s contract expires on Thursday, and the club want to renew, but reports suggest that he has received offers from Turkey and Belgium.
His handlers are also reported to have shelved any negotiations and offers so far, hoping that he will impress at the Afcon finals and possibly get a better deal.
“The national team will always come first for me. I think it’s always important in many ways, and I want to say thank you to our people for the great support they show us and it’s always an honour of the highest degree to represent Zimbabwe and I for one am grateful and humbled by the love and support.”
The training squad continued to troop into camp, with the Zambian-based players Tafadzwa Rusike, Dennis Dauda and Jimmy Dzingai joining yesterday.
Skipper Knowledge Musona and Marvellous Nakamba are expected to join the rest of the squad in South Africa next week, where the team will make a stop over to participate in the Cosafa tournament. They will then leave for Nigeria for an Afcon warm up match on June 8, before proceeding to Cairo the following day.