BY HENRY MHARA
The Warriors begin their Cosafa Cup title defence this afternoon with what looks like a winnable quarter-final contest against minnows Comoros, but the importance of this match for the Warriors stars, according to returning Tafadzwa “Fire” Rusike, lies elsewhere.
Kick-off of this clash set for the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban, South Africa, is 5:30pm.
While winning the tournament for the record seventh time would be special, Rusike and everyone else will be involved in a battle for the ticket to Egypt.
This is the opportunity for “outsiders” like Rusike to impress the Warriors coaches, led by Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambga, to make it into the team for the Africa Cup of Nations finals set to start in just over three weeks.
Zimbabwe are using this tournament as part of their preparations for the Afcon finals.
Rusike, now playing his football in the less fashionable Zambian league, also thinks this Cosafa Cup tournament presents him with an opportunity to get a club in the South African league.
“I’m happy to be back in the squad. It’s been long since I played in the national team, so it’s a good feeling to be here. But I know it’s not going to be easy to get a place in the team because there are so many good players who have been called into camp. I will have to fight hard to get the chance to play,” he said.
“If I work hard, I have a chance to make the squad to Egypt. I have to impress at training, and if I get a chance to play at the Cosafa, I will have to make full use of the opportunity.”
Rusike did not play in the Afcon qualifiers, and is one of the many players that have been named in the training squad.
“Some of the players have been together for quite some time now, doing well and playing good football. It will take a huge effort to get into this team. But I have been given this chance, and who knows I can gate-crash into the team to the Afcon? Playing at this tournament is a good opportunity to get a team in South Africa,” he said.
Besides Fire, some of the plyers that are likely to be given a chance include goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, Dennis Dauda, Byron Madzokere, Butholezwe Ncube, Thabani Kamusoko, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Walter Musona and Admiral Muskwe.