It is now a decade since Zimbabwe last qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals and never in those 10 years did the Warriors come closer to qualification than they have this time around.
INSIDESPORT WITH MICHAEL KARIATI
It is hard to believe that these are the same Warriors who under Brazilian Jose “Valinhos” Claudinei in 2010, finished a humiliating third in their four-team qualifying group, with only one win in six matches.
The same Warriors who in the run up to the 2015 Afcon finals brought the country’s football name into disrepute with elimination in the preliminary stages against football minors Tanzania.
This time a golden opportunity has come and a win for the Warriors today, coupled by a draw or loss for Guinea against Swaziland, will send the Warriors to the finals with one game to spare.
The Warriors should not let this rare opportunity slip through their fingers and the players should themselves ensure they progress, instead of depending on results from other matches.
No matter what happens in Mbabane, Swaziland, the most important thing is for the Warriors to convincingly overcome the Flames and then see after the 90 minutes of play where they would be standing
It is important that even if the Syli Nationale (Guinea) win against the Sihlangu (Swaziland), the Warriors stay three points clear of their closest rivals – which would come from them dousing the Flames (Malawi) today.
On that note, it is important that the Warriors take heed of the warning by coach Kalisto Pasuwa not to underestimate the Flames.
Who knows, Zimbabwe can go to Conakry, Guinea, and pick up a point or three. If weaker teams like Malawi and Swaziland could do it, why can’t the Warriors?
Although the $5 charge for the cheapest seat might be a bit high, the truth is that thousands will be at the giant National Sports Stadium and it would be cruel for the Warriors to disappoint.
It has been long since the Warriors made it to the continental football fiesta and now is the chance to make it among the best in Africa.
Some of the Warriors stars like young goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva were only eight years old when the Warriors last made the continental football journey and they would want to write their own piece of history.
Zifa has played its part to ensure that the Warriors were well-catered for during the short period they were in camp.
There are also huge incentives waiting for the players if they beat Malawi and a promised total of $250 000 for qualifying for the finals, so the Warriors have no excuses.
The nation is sitting on the edge of their seats and it is now up to the Warriors to deliver.
Only victory will make the nation happy. Go Warriors Go!
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