WARRIORS coach Ian Gorowa was upbeat Friday and challenged his players to give their total commitment as they begin their journey in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with an away tie against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam Sunday.
Zimbabwe is among the 26 countries that will take the long qualification route, starting this weekend, as they seek a third appearance at the continental football jamboree.
Gorowa told The Herald shortly before the team’s departure for the East African country that they were aiming for a positive start to the campaign by winning in Tanzania, although they are not expecting to get it on a silver platter.
However, the 42-year old coach believes the experience gained at the recent Africa Nations Championship tournament in South Africa has given them a strong foundation ahead of the qualifiers and has sought continuity by including the bulk of the players that featured at that event.
The Warriors began their preparations on Tuesday and, despite not getting all the 22 players he had called into camp and the injury plague that rocked his team, Gorowa said he was still satisfied with his team.
“Under the circumstances we did our best. We have done all the preparations and now it’s time for the players. Hopefully, we will get the result that we want,” said Gorowa.
“We need confidence, let’s go there and win. That is the most important thing.
“The good thing is that most of these players were at the CHAN tournament. So it’s not really a big transition for them. They know exactly what to do.”
Zimbabwe faced a setback with injuries to Ajax Cape Town striker Simba Sithole and Sydney Linyama while the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Kingston Nkhata and Willard Katsande ruled themselves out of the game.
Katsande, who is in the running for two top individual awards in South Africa, indicated that he was not feeling well while Nkhata said he was carrying a knock.
Nqobizitha Masuku of How Mine could not join camp because of injury and the coach ended up with 19 players in camp after extending the call to the domestic Premiership top scorer Kuda Musharu and midfielder Wonder Kapinda.
“The withdrawals didn’t affect us much. That’s why we chose about 22 players and out of that we had to go with 18 and now we have 18. I would rather focus more on these ones and not talk about those who are not here,” said Gorowa.Advertisement
The Zimbabwe delegation left for East Africa Friday via Addis Ababa and were expected to arrive in the Tanzanian capital in the early hours today.
With three goalkeepers in camp, Munyaradzi Diya was the only player to be dropped from the squad.
The Warriors coaches worked on the combinations on Thursday afternoon when they engaged Harare giants Dynamos in a practice match, which they won 2-1 with Musharu also registering his name on the scoresheet.
The How Mine forward will be competing for places with the South Africa-based duo of Tendai Ndoro and Absa championship winner Cuthbert Malajila.
Musharu has shown so much promise early in the year after scoring five goals in six matches in the Confederation Cup before turning the form to the domestic Premiership where he has banged in half a dozen goals from five outings.
He has taken his tally to 11 goals, in all competitions, in just three months for How Mine.
The coaches will also have to make a tough decision on whether to start George Chigova in goal or to go for experience and maturity in Washington Arubi.
It is unlikely there will be changes to the back four which did well at the CHAN tournament with skipper Partson Jaure, Eric Chipeta, Milton Ncube and Hardlife Zvirekwi all lining up in that rearguard.
But with the inexperienced Ronald Pfumbidzai the only cover available for the defenders, the coaches will be praying that there will be no injuries to their starting men.
Dynamos’ Stephen Alimenda looks set to make the first eleven in defensive midfield role alongside Danny Phiri.
Zimbabwe will also be pinning their hopes on Mamelodi Sundowns-bound midfielder Kuda Mahachi who, on his day, can destory the opposition.
The coach has also included new faces Talent Chawapiwa, whom many feel could be the next big star in this country, and Marshal Mudehwe in the travelling party.
Wonder Kapinda is not entirely new as he made his debut under Gorowa when the Warriors drew 0-0 with the Taifa Stars in a friendly match late last year.
Ghanaian Joseph Lamptey has been appointed to be the match referee.
They will face the winner between Mozambique and South Sudan provided they pass the initial test against Tanzania.
In the second round, there is another tougher hurdle for a place in the group that featires Zambia, Cape Verde and Niger.
The top two from this group will get automatic tickets to Morocco.
Goalkeepers: G. Chigova, W. Arubi
Defenders: H. Zvirekwi, E. Chipeta, P. Jaure, M. Ncube, R. Pfumbidzai
Midfielders: W. Kapinda, D. Phiri, P. Manhanga, S. Alimenda, K. Mahachi, T. Chawapiwa, P. Moyo, M. Mudehwe
Strikers: T. Ndoro, K. Musharu, C. Malajila