RAHMAN Gumbo has vowed to stay loyal to most of the team who beat Angola 3-1 in the first leg as he prepares to name his final 18 who will travel to Luanda for the return leg of Zimbabwe’s final 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday.
Gumbo has 30 players in camp but must cull the squad by dropping 12 players before they fly out to Angola on Friday night.
Gumbo said: “I’m not going to make too many changes because the guys did very well in the first leg and I believe they will be up to the job on Sunday.”
Several players previously under investigation for match fixing have suddenly become available for Gumbo after they were cleared, including strikers Edward Sadomba and Cuthbert Malajila.
Star forward Knowledge Musona and veteran midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha are back in the team after recovering from injury.
Gumbo knows that with bonuses of up to US$30,000 at stake for each player for qualifying, his decision either way could be life-changing.
But the Warriors coach also knows loyalty to his team from the first leg alone will not secure qualification at the Palancas Negras Stadium.
“We are going there to fight and I'm convinced the players we'll select are prepared for the fight of their lives on the pitch,” Gumbo said on Thursday.
“We have the advantage, but this is a game of football and anything can happen. We are not going there to watch them play; we will employ a sensible strategy striking a balance between defence and attack as the match evolves.”
A few changes will be forced on Gumbo. Highlanders shot stopper Arial Sibanda comes in for the injured captain, Tapuwa Kapini, who limped out in the first leg.
Musona is set to replace Hwange striker Rodwell Chinyengetere who was injured in a league match against Monomotapa two weeks ago.
Defensive midfielder Nengomasha is expected to start, with Oscar Machapa likely to make way. Archford Gutu will likely start alongside Nengomasha protecting the back four.
Gumbo is set to retain the back four of Noel Kaseke at right back, Onismor Bhasera on the left and stand-in skipper Esrom Nyandoro and Carlington Nyadombo in central defence.
Khama Billiat – the star of the show in the first leg – will likely be deployed wide right and Vusa Nyoni on the left with Edward Sadomba playing behind Musona.
The match kicks off at 5PM Zimbabwe time.