BEATING a team fresh from the World Cup is one thing, while coping with injuries and player pullouts is another. Zimbabwe manager Ernest Sibanda believes the Warriors can do both.
While Angola have in their squad only six of their playe
rs who were at the World Cup in Germany, the Palancas Negras could still prove a tough hunt for the Warriors in Sunday’s Cosafa Castle Cup semi-final at the National Sports Stadium.
Playing before a home crowd and having beaten the Palancas Negras in the Cosafa semi-final last year, Zimbabwe would naturally have carried the favourites’ tag come Sunday.
But then, Zimbabwe have had to endure player pullouts and injuries militating against their hopes of a fourth Cosafa Castle Cup title.
Zimbabwe will not have any of the foreign-based players they had initially planned around for the crunch encounter.
South Africa-based players Evans Gwekwerere and Onismo Bhasera have had to pull out after their clubs refused to release them for the regional tournament, which is not on Fifa’s calendar.
Efforts to bring home from Cyprus the duo of Noel Kaseke and Musa Mguni as well as the Poland-based Dickson Choto came to nought.
As if that was not enough, three other players — Justice Majabvi, Honour Gombami and Danger Fourpence — had to pull out through injury.
Still, Sibanda believes everything still looks good enough for a Zimbabwe victory.
“We’re are ready for Angola and everything has been good so far despite the injuries to a number of players,” he told IndependentSport yesterday.
“It’s football. It’s a challenge and we are going to see if our domestic football is improving especially when the local-based players get the chance to play.”
Besides Newton Katanha, who has been holed up in Malaysia for the past two seasons, the rest of the Zimbabwe squad is made up of players plying their trade on the domestic scene.
The Warriors, though, are likely to pin their hopes on Dynamos midfielder Ronald Sibanda who had initially been snubbed over his disciplinary record.
Interestingly Sibanda is the only player around who featured for Zimbabwe in their last loss to Angola in the Cosafa Cup — a 0-1 loss courtesy of a late Flavio strike at the National Sports Stadium on September 30 2001.
The local-based players expected to feature for the Warriors include goalkeepers Tafadzwa Dube and Washington Arubi as well as defenders Gilbert Banda, Obert Moyo, Method Mwanjali and David Kutyauripo.
Clement Matawu, Francis Chandida, Benjamin Marere, Johannes Ngodzo, Carrington Gomba and Edward Sadomba will fight it out for the midfield positions.
The strikers include Ralph Matema, Philip Marufu and Heavens Chinyama.
Zimbabwe are expected to name their final 18-man squad today.