Warriors hunt Super Eagles

Zimbabwe are the home team in a game that kicks off at 3pm.

WITH a full squad complement at his disposal, Warriors coach Baltemar Brito is set to ring some changes for the crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup Group C second qualifier against giants Nigeria at the Huye Stadium in Butare this afternoon.

Zimbabwe are the home team in a game that kicks off at 3pm.

Both teams are out to redeem themselves in this clash after they kicked off their quest for a place in next World Cup finals in a disappointing manner.

Brito's men were frustrated to a goalless draw by Rwanda last Wednesday in a game that marked the Warriors' return to competitive international football following a two-year Fifa ban, while the three--time African champions Nigeria were left with a sour taste of disappointment in their group opener as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by minnows Lesotho last Thursday.

There were, however, some mitigating factors for the Warriors' average display as the team hardly trained together with some players arriving the night before the game.

In his post-match comments, Brito promised to make changes for the Nigeria match, specifically upfront after the team struggled to find the back of the net.

France-based Tino Kadewere who played the last 15 minutes against Rwanda, hours after he had arrived in Rwanda, is set to start ahead of Prince Dube.

Dynamos midfielder Tanaka "Kante" Shandirwa is likely to be picked in the first 11 ahead of Brian Banda while Italy based star Jordan Zemura could start on the left channel where Walter Musona operated.

Andrew "Tower" Mbeba received his full Warriors debut at right back against Rwanda, but it wasn't the best performance from the Highlanders defender, so Brito might be tempted to switch things up in that regard and bring in Moldova-based Munashe Garan’anga.

Kadewere is confident that the Warriors can get an upset win this afternoon.

The last time that Zimbabwe faced off against Nigeria in a friendly in the build up to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the match ended in a 1-1 draw, something that is motivating the Lyon forward.

"Of course they are counted as one of the biggest teams in Africa but we don't want to put that into our minds," Kadewere reckons.

"We have to go into the pitch telling ourselves that this is a cup final. We need to do everything to get this victory for ourselves and the nation.

"We got a good technical team that is behind us and we have had some tactical meetings with videos analysing most of the team that Nigeria is. We have got an insight into how they play."

On paper, the Super Eagles look favourites due to the number of world class stars within their ranks.

But Kadewere is unfazed by the opponents' status.

"We all know Nigeria. They have a very good squad. Of course they have a few players missing like Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze but they still have a very good squad.

“We don't have to focus much on that or on who is missing for them but on those who are there.

"We know they have the quality, we just need to put our game towards them. We should try and make sure that we don't sit back, we have to push forward to get the victory.

"It's not going to be easy and we know we need to put more than 100 percent effort into this game."

The Warriors switched base from Kigali yesterday morning to Butare where they trained at the match venue in the evening ahead of this afternoon's blockbuster clash.

Nigeria coach Jose Santos Peseiro is also expected to make some changes to his squad today as they look to redeem themselves with a victory to get their campaign off the ground.

He confirmed yesterday that he will make two changes in defence with Bruno Onyemaechi coming in for Jamilu Collins, while former Chelsea full back Ola Aina will take the place of Bright Osayi-Samuel at right back.

In attack, Moses Simon replaces Ademola Lookman on the left flank while Terem Moffi will take the place of Nottingham Forest star Taiwo Awoniyi who has returned to England with a groin injury.

Peseiro is targeting nothing short of a victory today.

“We will respond very well (vs Zimbabwe),” the former Saudi Arabia and Venezuela coach told reporters.

“Now we have to beat Zimbabwe on Sunday," the Portuguese added.

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