BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The Warriors will be looking to throw caution to the wind and go all out on attack when they play Lesotho in the first leg of the final round 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier at the National Sports Stadium today.
The winner over two legs will qualify for the biennial event for locally-based players set for Cameroon in January next year.
Lesotho are no pushovers after they beat regional giants South Africa 6-2 on aggregate in the last round as they bid for a maiden Chan appearance.
But Warriors coach Joey Antipas, underlining his love for offensive style football, is looking to attack Likuena this afternoon.
“Personally, for me I like to play attacking football and our first port of call is to attack. We are playing at home in the first leg so we have to go out and attack and also defend because it’s not just about going out to attack,” Antipas said.
“If we attack and lose our shape, then we may be counter-attacked, so our approach is to go out there and win the game. And to win that game we have to go and play attacking football.”
The Warriors have qualified for four of the five Chan finals, but missed out of the last competition, which was held in Morocco and will be looking to make a return.
Zimbabwe finished fourth at the third edition of the tournament that was held in South Africa back in 2014.
In the previous round, the Warriors accounted for Mauritius 7-1 on aggregate.
Antipas believes that qualifying for Chan 2020 will be a grand opportunity for the locally-based players to market themselves and possibly move to bigger leagues.
It’s also an opportunity for the players to gate-crash into the main Zimbabwe squad according to Antipas.
“It’s a grand opportunity to get to the finals because if they get there, one thing for sure is that they can be exposed in that tournament. If they play well with scouts and other teams looking at them, they can get bigger opportunities,” he said.
“So, it’s important to take the tournament seriously and it’s important that they make a name for themselves at the tournament.
“This is their chance to shine and if they come out with outstanding performances, they will also be considered for the senior national team.”
Zimbabwe have enjoyed dominance over Lesotho in the past, having won six of the last 10 encounters between the two countries since 2007.
Lesotho, on the other hand, have beaten Zimbabwe once during the same time with their only win coming in a friendly tie in November 2017.
But Antipas is not taking Lesotho lightly.
“We know that we are up against a Lesotho outfit, which is a very tricky side who edged South Africa in the last round and they lost out to Ethiopia in the World Cup qualifiers preliminary round.”
“It’s a big task ahead, but it can be done. We just have to go out there with the right temperament and right attitude and secure a positive result.”
Antipas will be missing a number of key players such as Evans Katema and Leeroy Mavunga, who were instrumental against Mauritius. Both are injured.
Other players like Joel Ngodzo, Nomore Chinyerere and Max Nyamupanedengu, who are part of the squad, have expired passports.
The return leg will be on October 18.
Zimbabwe probable line-up
Simba Chinani, Ian Nekati, Partson Jaure, Peter Muduwa, Xolani Ndlovu, Tichaona Chipunza, Never Tigere, Ian Nyoni, Valentine Kadonzvo, Nqobizitha Masuku, Prince Dube