HomeSportWarriors begin Afcon journey

Warriors begin Afcon journey

WARRIORS captain Knowledge Musona says his charges have unfinished business in the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) competition following a dismal performance at the finals in Gabon early this year. The team begins another qualification race when they host West African lightweights, Liberia this afternoon at the National Sports Stadium.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

MAPEZA

The KV Oostende star leads a team that constitutes a large chunk of players that took part at the finals early this year who have been retained by interim coach Norman Mapeza for the 2019 qualification campaign.

These are Netherlands-based Marvelous Nakamba and the South Africa-based quartet of Tendai Ndoro, Kuda Mahachi, Danny Phiri and Onismor Bhasera who are likely to make it into the starting lineup against the Lone Star.

“We have unfinished business at the Afcon finals after our performance in Gabon, so we would like to go back and do better,” Musona said.

“But first, we have to start with this game, try to collect maximum points and stay on top of the group. We then can start thinking of the mistakes that we made at the previous Afcon finals, then we can move on from there.”

After qualifying for a third African safari finals, the Warriors, then under the guidance of Kalisto Pasuwa, left Gabon without a single win, but a draw and two defeats.

Today, the national team begins a bid for a fourth Afcon appearance with a seemingly easy task.

“We are confident of winning because we are playing the first game at home and we have nothing to lose. We are just going to go out 100% and apply our tactics. I think everything is good so far and we are looking forward to maximum points on Sunday [today],” Musona said.

Mapeza, who torched controversy after axing a number of top senior players in former captain Willard Katsande, Nyasha Mushekwi, Matthew Rusike and Cuthbert Malajila for this campaign, admits that he was under immense pressure.

“There is so much pressure on me and you can tell by just looking at my face. It’s just too much because I am doing it for the country and we just have to deliver,” he said

“However, this group has shown me enthusiasm. They have shown great commitment and that they love the country; that is all I need and everything will definitely fall into place.”

Zimbabwe is in Group G alongside the DRC, ranked fifth in Africa, Congo (19th) and Liberia, the lowest ranked team in the pool at number 46 on the continent.

In the absence of Khama Billiat — the creative hub of the current Warriors squad — Mapeza is set to move Nakamba up the field to play behind the strikers on the right, while Musona plays on the left. Thabani Kamusoko might join Phiri in a twin defensive link position.

Ngezi Platinum defence pillar Partson Jaure is set to complete the four-man defence with Teenage Hadebe, Erick Chipeta and Bhasera.

Despite his worrying loss of form and limited game time at Orlando Pirates, Ndoro is likely to get the nod ahead of Evans Rusike for the lone striker’s place and George Chigova is the front runner to man the sticks.

Liberia, who jetted into the country without a number of their key players, are buoyed by the 1-0 win over Sierra Leone in a friendly match last Monday.

Coach James Debbah said his team was ready to cause an upset inspite of the absentees.

William Jebor, strike partner Alex Nimely and Antony Laffour, who plays for South African Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns, did not make the trip.

The Lone Star has not qualified for the Afcon since 2002.

With a couple of players carrying light knocks, Mapeza said he may be forced to announce the final 18-man squad this morning.

The match kicks off at 3pm.

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