BY HENRY MHARA IN PARKTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
WARRIORS interim coach Norman Mapeza says his charges will be out to salvage some pride in the World Cup qualifying campaign when they take on neighbours South Africa in their penultimate Group H match at the FNB Stadium tomorrow night.
When the qualifying draw was conducted, many tipped Zimbabwe to progress to the next stage from their pool, but a home draw against South Africa in their opener was followed by three successive losses to Ethiopia and Ghana (twice) to crash out of contention with two matches remaining.
“We want to win the game,” Mapeza said.
“As a nation, we have a battered pride, so we need to restore our pride. We will definitely go out there and try to get a positive result. We have to go out there with a positive mind and try to fight for the national badge and get back home with a good result,” he said.
While Zimbabwe are out of contention, South Africa need a win to give them a good chance of finishing ahead of Ghana.
After arriving in South Africa in batches on Monday evening, Mapeza took charge of the first training session yesterday morning.
Striker Knox Mutizwa and Brendon Galloway missed out on the training session as they had not arrived, but later joined the rest of the squad in yesterday’s afternoon workout.
Defender Tendayi Darikwa pulled out of tomorrow’s match as he is still attending to unspecified family problems which also forced him to miss the return match against Ghana last month.
Leicester City’s sensation Tawanda Maswanhise will also miss the Bafana Bafana clash as he is yet to obtain a Zimbabwean passport, but is expected to make it for the final qualifier against Ethiopia on Sunday in Harare.
“I am happy with the players’ attitude. All the players are pushing and I hope it will remain the same going forward, but what we don’t want is to have injuries before our game on Thursday,” Mapeza said.
With the World Cup ticket out of reach for the Warriors, Mapeza said he is using the two matches to prepare the team for January’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
Part of his plan is also to fuse youngsters into the team for future assignments.
Mapeza explained his inclusion of Dynamos’ 18-year-old Bill Antonio as replacement for Macauley Bonne who turned down an invitation.
“I did the same with guys such as Khama (Billiat), Knowledge (Musona) and Teenage (Hadebe). When I brought them to the national team, they were still very young. These youngsters need to learn, we need them to come here and feel the environment and also watch the top guys like the Khamas, and the (Marvelous) Nakambas. From there, their learning process will be much quicker than if we call him once and then leave him the next time. If an opportunity arises for him to come on Thursday, why not? This is the time for him to play.”
Germany-based Jonah Fabisch also looks to finally get his Warriors bow. The 21-year-old was called for the two matches against South Africa and Ethiopia but did not get game time.
Goalkeepers: T Mvula (Dynamos), D Benard (Chicken Inn), P Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: B Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), B Kangwa (Azam), D Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns), T Chimwemwe (Nkana), A Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi), P Muduhwa (Highlanders), G Murwira (Dynamos)
Midfielders: M Nakamba (Aston Villa), K Madzongwe (FC Platinum), G Takwara (Venda Football Academy), F Madhananga (Marumo Gallants), B Sarupinda (Sekhukhune), B Antonio (Dynamos), T Kamusoko (Zesco United), J Fabisch (Hamburger SV), K Mahachi (SuperSport United), K Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), I Wadi (JDR Stars)
Strikers: D Moyo (Hamilton Academical), K Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
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