BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Warriors will be hoping to carry through their proud record against Burkina Faso when the two teams clash tomorrow in a Group A of the African Nations Championships (Chan) taking place in Cameroon.
Zimbabwe go into the match at the back of a 1-0 defeat to the hosts, while Burkina Faso lost to Mali by the same goal margin.
Both go into the match desperate for three points as they seek to breathe life into their wilting campaign.
In their previous four meetings, Zimbabwe won three of the clashes, while one, a friendly international, ended in a 1-all draw.
The two teams’ latest clash came at the 2014 Chan finals staged in South Africa, where Ian Gorowa’s side emerged 1-0 winners following a Masimba Mambare strike in their Group B clash.
The squad for that edition of the tournament featured stars that included Kuda Mahachi, Simbarashe Sithole, Donald Ngoma, Masimba Mambare, Danny Phiri, Partson Jaure, Milton Ncube, Tawanda Muparati, Felix Chindungwe and George Chigova, among others.
Seven years later, under Zdravko Logarušić, the Warriors confront Burkina Faso seeking a win that would keep their hopes of a quarter final berth alive.
Circumstances are very much different, especially with the Warriors chaotic preparations owing to the coronavirus effects.
Zimbabwe only managed a few training sessions in the run up to the tournament after they experienced an outbreak of the pandemic in their camp.
Fifteen players and officials tested positive for the virus and training was suspended for more than ten days.
That development also killed any hopes of organising friendly matches ahead of the tournament and Logarusic has bemoaned the poor preparations.
“We move on. It’s not so bad, it was a good starting point,” Logarusic said of the first match.
“For some of the players, it was their first time to play at a big tournament, so we will learn from the mistakes and refresh things for the second and third game.
We will try our best not to disappoint. This is not the end of the world.
“We will play two more games and we have every chance of securing a place in the quarter-finals. It’s up to us to study our mistakes and correct them before our next meeting against Burkina Faso.”
He will take confidence from the team’s fighting spirit in the first match against a better prepared Cameroon side, also spurred on by a home crowd of about 10 000 fans.
Logarušić conceded that it was tough facing the hosts in the tournament opener and he was pleased with the way the team stood firm.
They know that against Burkina Faso circumstances will be different and they have a better chance of claiming victory.
Following Saturday’s match, the Warriors would have looked to make the most of the three days between the first match and the second.
Logarušić would have tried to get some fluidity into a group of players that only played their first competitive match in over a year, while their opponents have been involved in their domestic leagues.
“You can see from how they play that they have leagues running in their countries and they had proper preparations. It would be very difficult against them,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s Premier Soccer League failed to take off last year due to the coronavirus, which is also threatening this year’s edition.