CAN the Warriors better their 2014 African Nations Championships (Chan) performance in South Africa and go beyond the semi-finals?
Well, that’s the big question that coach Kalisto Pasuwa and his troops will have to answer as they troop into the Rabavu Stadium Tuesday afternoon for their opening match against neighbours Zambia in the 2016 Chan edition. Kick-off is 1600hrs.
Zimbabwe has qualified for all the four editions of the competition since the competition, specifically for locally based players, was founded in 2009.
In Ivory Coast, under Sunday Chidzambwa in the inaugural edition, they failed to reach the knockout stages, the same in 2011 under Madinda Ndlovu in Sudan.
Their best performance was in South Africa under Ian Gorowa when they reached the semi-finals but lost to eventual winners Libya.
Now Pasuwa has the unenviable task of reaching the final this year, and bringing the top gong, back home, with a new set of players, save for skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi, the only survivor from the 2014 edition.
Pasuwa will have to bank on his rookies to get him off to a flying start with a toss-up between Elvis Chipezeze and Tatenda Mukuruva for the number one spot.
FC Platinum midfield hard-man Gerald Takwara is expected to provide cover for a solid back four of Blessing Moyo, Farai Madhanganga, Bruce Kangwa and Ocean Mushure.
The job to get goals will be the responsibility of Knox Mutizwa and Rodreck Mutuma while Ronald Chitiyo and Joel Ngodzo will be expected to be the creative hub that keeps the supply lines open for the strike duo.
Alternatively, they will have Chicken Inn striker Edmore Chirambadare on the bench and Harare City’s Francesco Zekumbawira.
Speaking to the media on arrival, Pasuwa said he was hopeful of a good outing.
“I think the players know what is expected of them in such competitions. You play for three points in all matches to stand a chance of going through to the next round.
“We had good preparations back home despite failing to get an friendly match and I think we are ready,” he said.
The Warriors had been penciled play Mozambique before departure but the proposed friendly fell through while their opponents on Tuesday managed a camp in South Africa and two matches against Angola and Mamelodi Sundowns.Advertisement
Meanwhile, Zambia assistant coach Irfan Kawri has left the bench at the Chan finals to return to the United Kingdom.
Kawri, who was appointed assistant coach in December to replace Fighton Simukonda who was dropped from the team, has left the team’s base in Rubavu and departed just three days after the team arrived in Rwanda for the tournament that kicked off on January 16.
“Assistant coach Irfan Kawri has returned to Lusaka from where he will proceed to go back to his England base,” the Football Association of Zambia said in a statement.
Faz said Kawri has returned to the UK due to private and family reasons.
“Coach George Lwandamina and Kawri informed the squad of the private reasons,” Faz stated.
“Lwandamina hailed Kawri’s work and greater contribution to the preparation of the Chan team.”
Second assistant Kampamba Chintu will now be deputy coach.