ZIMBABWE will be seeking a change of fortunes when they start their African Nations Championships (Chan) finals campaign with a Group B clash against the Atlas Lions of Morocco at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday.
Coach Ian Gorowa is yet to lose since taking over from Klaus Pagels last August, in a run that gives him the much-needed confidence that to drive into the team in their opening match.
Having disposed of tough opponents Zambia in the final qualifying round, the Warriors arrive in Cape Town as favourites to progress to the knockout stages for the first time in the history of the competition.
In the last two editions in Ivory Coast and Sudan in 2009 and 2011, the Warriors managed three draws and one win respectively. Sunday’s opening match will be crucial.
“We are going to take it one game at a time and focus on Morocco, but I am happy with the effort that has been put by the boys and I am confident we can do something here,” said Gorowa from Cape Town on Friday after the morning training session.
The Warriors beat Gabon 2-0 on Tuesday with goals from Donald Ngoma and Milton Ncube before a team of fringe players lost 3-0 to Ajax Cape Town in a practice match at Ikamva in the Mother City.
“It was just a practice match to give everybody a feel of things. Results do not matter, but the first match does,” the coach said.
Again, Gorowa will bank on Ngoma, a forceful forward from FC Platinum and his teammate Nelson Maziwisa and Dynamos’ Simba Sithole to get the early goals that will unsettle the North Africans.
George Chigova is likely to start in goal with Patson Jaure and Ncube operating from the wingbacks. Eric Chipeta and Hardlife Zvirekwi will formed the centre backline with Danny Phiri providing cover in front of the back four.
Ali Sadiki (left attacking link), Pasca Manhanga (behind strikers) and Kuda Mahachi on the right attacking link will join Sithole and Ngoma upfront.
Gorowa has plenty of alternatives on the bench and could go for experience by bringing in Charles Sibanda for Manhanga.
The other players in the team are defenders Felix Chindungwe, Oscar Machapa, Simba Sithole of How Mine, Nelson Maziwisa and Peter Moyo, Munyaradzi Diya, Tafadzwa Dube, Masimba Mambare, Augustine Mbara, Tawanda Muparati and Themba Ndlovu.Advertisement
Team manager Sharif Mussa said there were no injury worries in camp.
For the next match at the same venue against Uganda on Thursday, the Warriors will be boosted by the expected arrival of 64 fans from Zimbabwe, who are organising the trip after being given a bus by a local funeral services company, Nyaradzo.
Warriors’ Group matches
Zimbabwe vs Morocco, (Sunday, 12 Jan. 2014, 1700hrs) Athlone Stadium, Cape Town
Zimbabwe vs Uganda, (Thursday, 16 Jan. 2014, 1700hrs) Athlone Stadium, Cape Town
Burkina Faso vs Zimbabwe, (Monday, 20 Jan. 2014, 1900hrs) Athlone Stadium, Cape Town