BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza will be looking for a winning start on his return to the helm of the national senior men’s football team as Zimbabwe chase seeks an outright victory against Ghana in a 2022 World Cup Group G qualifier at the Cape Coast Stadium this evening.
The match kicks off at 6pm Zimbabwe time.
The Warriors are seeking their first win in Group G to make up for the goalless draw against South Africa and the dramatic defeat by Ethiopia in the second match.
That set of results cost Zdravko Logarušić’s job as the Warriors head coach and was replaced by Mapeza, who was the popular choice for the position.
His first assignment couldn’t have been any harder as his side are coming up against a Ghana side which is also desperate for a positive result after they were beaten 1-0 by South Africa the last time out.
Unlike Logarušić, Mapeza managed to assemble his best possible squad from the available players and while this match doesn’t seem favourable, he would fancy his chances of an outright victory.
Infact, Mapeza is spoilt for choice and it would be interesting to see how he sets up his team for this evening’s encounter.
Fans back home are clamouring for him to send out an all attacking team, which is understandable for a team that needs to pick up maximum points.
But for all the thrilling attacking options at his disposal, it is unlikely that Mapeza would employ gung ho approach.
Defensive midfielders Marshal Munetsi and Marvelous Nakamba are sure bets to start and it won’t be a surprise if Kelvin Madzongwe is also thrown in to solidify things in midfield.
In-form Jordan Zemura, who has been excellent for his club Bournemouth, playing as a leftback, is also expected to start in the left side of midfield.
Without the suspended Khama Billiat, Knox Mtizwa could provide width on the right side, with Knowledge Musona leading the line.
Mapeza has predicted a tough encounter against a team that is also under a new coach in Milovan Rajevac.
“We are going to play a very good team. If you look at their squad, they have got so many players playing in Europe and I watched their game against South Africa and they did well despite losing. With the new coach coming, they will change their game plan. We don’t know much about their new coach except that he was there when they played the World Cup in South Africa,” Mapeza said before his departure for Ghana this week.
“They have Thomas Partey and Jordan Ayew. Those are quality players, so definitely it’s not going to be an easy game. They are a very good team.”
Zimbabwe has not had the best stay in Ghana since arriving on Wednesday after they were given substandard training facilities. But Mapeza has said he remains positive that his team can grind a result.
The two teams have met six times before, with Ghana winning half of those encounters.
Zimbabwe won once, with that victory coming in their last encounter, which was way back in January 2006 during the African Cup of Nations.
Tonight’s match will be played in front of 4 000 fans after Fifa and Caf approved the host association’s request to allow supporters in.
Warriors probable starting 11
W Arubi, T Darikwa, T Hadebe, A Mudimu, B Galloway, M Munetsi, M Nakamba, K Madzongwe, J Zemura, K Musona, K Mtizwa
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