BATTLE lines have been drawn for Sunday’s 2016 Chan qualifier final round, first leg between Zimbabwe and Lesotho with Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa declaring readiness to take on the visitors at Barbourfieds Stadium.
Zimbabwe are seeking a record fourth straight appearance at the Chan finals whose next edition would be hosted by Rwanda.
The Warriors began gearing up for Lesotho on Tuesday with the Crocodiles jetting into Bulawayo the following day.
Lesotho arrived Wednesday afternoon but had to wait for two hours at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport as there was no one from Zifa to pick them up.
When they were eventually picked up after 5pm, they had no accommodation for the night, and again, thanks to the Premier Soccer League were booked into the Holiday Inn while Zifa scrambled for funds for alternative accommodation.
On Thursday, they had their first training session at Gifford High School and head coach Seephephe Matete seemed not be worried about the minor hiccups, saying their sole focus was a win.
“We know that we are the underdogs in this competition because Zimbabwe has more experienced players who are professionals, while we are amateurs but you know in football anything can happen,” he said.
“It will be good to get a good result here so that we can get through and we must have ball possession but the trick will be to stop Zimbabwe from playing their normal game in the first 15 minutes.”
After the Warriors camp was hit with injuries on six players, all now appear fit but defenders Blessing Moyo and Teenage Hadebe will have to pass fitness tests.
Another predicament hit the Zimbabwe camp when about six players suffered from running stomachs, a situation well contained by the team doctor.
Pasuwa said they have put all that behind them and are ready for battle on Sunday.
“I do not want to state that we are going to beat Lesotho by this or that margin because that would be like suggesting this match is a walkover. We are treating them with respect,” Pasuwa said.
“We are ready for the match and we are looking forward to a positive result that will see us finish the job when we visit them.
“We would not want to go to Lesotho under pressure. We trained well and played that friendly against Tsholotsho.Advertisement
“I discovered certain weaknesses in the team especially our defensive midfielders but that has since been corrected.”
Pasuwa was pleased that skipper Danny ‘Deco’ Phiri and striker Rodreck Mutuma had shrugged off injuries.
“We will be playing at home, therefore, we have to kill the match here,” said Phiri.
“This will give us an edge when we go to Lesotho. Morale is high in the camp with coach Pasuwa having played a big role in boosting our morale. I am sure and confident that victory is certain.”
The Warriors will be without three players -Ronald Chitiyo, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Justice Jangano – who were expelled from camp after arriving late in Bulawayo.
Chitiyo has not been a feature for the Warriors recently and will be hardly missed, Zvirekwi has not reached the heights that made him the best right back in the country in the last two seasons, but Jangano was slowly coming in the Under 23 structures under Pasuwa
The second leg would be played in Maseru seven days later. Pasuwa was Ian Gorowa’s assistant coach at the last edition of Chan where the Warriors reached the semi-finals.
Zimbabwe have not missed the Chan finals since their inception in 2009 when Sunday Chidzambwa took the first squad to Ivory Coast.
Madinda Ndlovu was in charge in 2011 in Sudan while Gorowa achieved the best results in 2014 in South Africa when the Warriors finished fourth.