BY HENRY MHARA IN CAIRO, EGYPT
THE Warriors’ continued participation at the current 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) hinges on their ability to fashion out a positive result against Uganda at the Cairo International Stadium in a Group A clash this evening and vice-captain Ovidy Karuru has put his head on the block by promising fans a win.
Having lost their opening match to Egypt at the same venue on Friday, they have to win this one to enhance their chances of going through to the knockout phase, but, while a draw may not be desirable, it could yet favour the Sunday Chidzambga-coached side, depending on other results.
Top two teams in each group qualify for the next phase while four best-placed third spot finishers will also move to the next stage.
Speaking at yesterday’s Press conference ahead of the match, Karuru said they don’t want to be part of the group of players that will prematurely leave the tournament.
“Tomorrow (today)’s match is not going to be an easy one as we all saw how Uganda played against the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). They are very good and very physical, but we have prepared well and we have to win this game at all cost because it will determine our future in this tournament. We are ready for the match, and we know what Uganda can do, but what we can promise as players is a good game and we will win the match. We want to progress to the next round so we will fight hard to win this game,” Karuru said.
Uganda sit pretty following their 2-0 win over the DRC on Saturday and will target to at least avoid defeat.
Chidzambga knows his boys will have to play their best match to get a favourable result.
“We are playing against a very good Uganda side. They beat the DRC, who are also a very good and solid side, so we will be up against a very good opponent. If we are to produce a good result, we will have to fight hard for the entire 90 minutes and I just hope and pray that we will be at our best and try to produce a good result for us to get into the next stage of the competition,” he said.
The Warriors played well against the hosts, but they struggled to create clear-cut chances, and they made only one shot on target in the entire match. This evening, they face a mean Ugandan defence who give away very little at the back, but the Warriors have made plans on how to penetrate.
“We have been trying to rectify our mistakes at training, which hopefully we did. We will try and create meaningful chances. We know they have a solid defence, but we have prepared well for that,” Chidzambga said. Karuru believes the team will today create an avalanche.
“We didn’t create many chances and made a lot of very wrong decisions in the final third against Egypt. We were shooting when we were supposed to pass, and passing when we were supposed to shoot. We have rectified it and all the other mistakes we made against Egypt, so I’m sure we will create many scoring opportunities in this match.”
There are fitness concerns on goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda and striker Nyasha Mushekwi (pictured) after the two limped off the pitch on Friday.
The duo will have to pass a late fitness test to participate in this match. But it appears Chidzambga has already made up his mind on the two positions, and they are likely to be changes. First choice goalkeeper George Chigova will return after serving his suspension, while Tino Kadewere is likely to be picked ahead of Knox Mutizwa and Evans Rusike to replace Mushekwi up top.
The other change could see anchorman Danny Phiri replacing Marshal Munetsi.
Warriors’ probable line-up:
G Chigova, T Darikwa, A Mudimu, T Hadebe, D Lunga, D Phiri, M Nakamba, O Karuru, K Billiat, K Musona, T Kadewere