The moment of truth has finally arrived for Ian Gorowa and his Warriors in this afternoon’s blockbuster African Nations Championships qualifier last round, first leg against Zambia at Rufaro.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Following a false take-off of the much-anticipated Battle of Zambezi due to the unavailability of referees last weekend, Zimbabwe finally collide with Chipolopolo in a match that has drawn the attention of the southern African region.
The Warriors go into this match on the backdrop of only two training sessions, after mid-week league matches disrupted their training schedule.
This is in stark contrast to their opponents who started training on Wednesday, the day when another batch of their local-based players was in France together with the foreign-based contingent for a high-profile friendly international against Senegal.
Zambia coach Herve Renhard is back in Harare with defenders Bronson Chama and Christopher Munthali, Nchanga Rangers striker Bornwell Mwape and the Nkana striking duo of Evans Kangwa and Festus Mbwewe, who were part of the 10 local players that travelled to France.
Midfielders Kabaso Chongo, Red Arrows’ Bruce Musakanya, Roderick Kabwe, Khodwani Mtonga, and goalkeeper Danny Munyau were also part of the Paris mission.
But yesterday Gorowa appeared unperturbed by unlikely events that unfolded last week as Zimbabwe was inactive on the Fifa international friendly day.
“We are ready for Zambia. The homework was already done the previous week when the match failed to take place. The fact that they went to Paris does not worry us. My players are self-motivated and know what is expected from them,” said Gorowa.
While the Zambian-based players were rubbing shoulders against experienced overseas-based Senegalese internationals, Gorowa’s star players like Tendai Ndoro, Tawanda Muparati, Partson Jaure and Masimba Mambare were being offered little challenge in league matches.
Renhard told fazfootball.com last week that the Paris match was to afford locals a chance to play on a grand stage.
“This game allows us [a chance] to try new things and new players. This is an opportunity to see how they perform against formidable opposition. That is our main objective,” Renard said.
This presents harsh reality on Gorowa whose coaching credentials would be up for a severe scrutiny against Chipolopolo who have dominated the Warriors since 1980.
The 3-0 away win and 1-1 home draw against Mauritius in the first round stirred mixed feelings on Gorowa’s capabilities to lead the Warriors to a third straight Chan appearance.
That bid is under serious threat from a Zambia side that has beaten them twice this year with similar 2-0 scorelines. Zambia snatched the Cosafa crown from Zimbabwe last month after having beaten the Warriors in an international friendly match in April. But all that does not worry Gorowa who believes they have to fully utilise home advantage this afternoon.
“A win by any margin would do for us but obviously we want a cushion. We do not want to go to Zambia while under pressure, it has to be them under pressure,” said Gorowa.
Only slight changes have been made in Gorowa’s squad.
Scorer of the other goal in Mauritius, Simba Sithole, has been ruled out after arriving late from a trial stint in South Africa.