WARRIORS READY TO ROAR | WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa reckons his side will present a difficult proposition to opponents, and the 65-year-old has demanded a fighting spirit for tonight’s Cosafa Castle Cup quarter-final clash against Swaziland.
Zimbabwe take on Sihlangu at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in the last of the quarterfinal matches that began yesterday with the encounter between Botswana and Zambia. Chidzambwa, who is yet to lose a Cosafa Castle Cup soccer match with the Warriors, expressed confidence in the pedigree of his squad, suggesting they could be their own worst enemies if they took a complacent approach to any of their matches.
On Friday Chidzambwa reshuffled his pack to give a run out to more players, and the ZPC Kariba gaffer was left a hugely satisfied man as the Warriors pumped in half a dozen goals past a hapless Seychelles. Yet it could have even been more against the Indian Ocean islanders. Crucially for the Warriors, they advanced to the last eight having scored 10 goals while also keeping a clean sheet in all three Group B games.
Such statistics have drawn a grudging smile from the oft hard-to-please Chidzambwa, who addressed his players at their training session at Mogwase Stadium and implored them to play to their full potential. “I think we did well in the group games considering that we scored 10 goals in three games and we were very unlucky against Madagascar in the sense that we missed one or two good chances and were denied two penalties by the referee but that happens in football.
“Sometimes in a game if football you get one chance, put it away and you win 1-0. The Madagascar game was tight but we were good in our defensive third,” Chidzambwa said in an interview. Chidzambwa said he was bracing for tougher tests starting tonight against Sihlangu, who held the Warriors 2-2 in a group game in last year’s edition of the tournament in Windhoek, Namibia.
“This morning we were talking to the players and told them that if we out our heart into any match we can compete with any team in the Cosafa Cup. “We have tried to talk to them about the need to take the right approach and attitude and if possible try to get an early goal to unsettle our opponents,” Chidzambwa said.
The former Dynamos coach also warned his charges against needless mistakes as the margin of error was limited in the knock-out stage of the competition. “Going forward our next game is a knock-out and I think we need to be ready. In this tournament, Swaziland are ranked higher than us and I last saw them when we played them in the African Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Stadium.
“So we will need to take the chances that come our way but we will also need to look at our fitness levels for the upcoming games. “We have played three games in five days and that is too much, and the boys will be getting tired but again those are the tournament rules and we have to live by it and soldier on.”
Chidzambwa, who made seven changes to his side and also reshuffled the defence for the final group game against Seychelles, was also happy that those he threw into the fray did not disappoint.
The Warriors coach singled out Highlanders striker Prince Dube for praise after that match. Dube is on the radar of Ajax Cape Town and his impressive show in the Zimbabwe attack, which he capped with a 57th minute goal after being sent through by debutant Honest Moyo, must have also satisfied the Urban Warriors.
“I think changing the team helped us quite a lot. If you look at Prince, (Raphael) Manuvire, (Michelle) Katsvairo, Honest Moyo and Innocent (Mucheneka), they did quite well. “It also helped us to rest Ocean (Mushure), George (Chigova), Knox (Mtizwa) and Talent (Chawapihwa) … It is a pity that Leeroy (Mavunga) left for Portugal but those that came in added punch.
“I must give a lot of credit to Prince. He was very mobile and he is an intelligent player. (Gerald) Takwara was also very dominant in midfield especially in defending and was winning tackles. I must also mention Honest who not only defended well but assisted in the goal by Prince with a perfect pass. “Even though we changed our centre back and brought back Liberty (Chakoroma) following the injury to Mukombwe we were still good,” Chidzambwa said.
Black Rhinos right-back Jameson Mukombwe, injured in the first half of the opening Group B game against Mozambique, remains on the sidelines with Chidzambwa indicating the defender was still in pain. “I think Mukombwe is the only injury worry at the moment. He has a hamstring problem and he is still in pain, but for us to get to the next round we have to pick our best squad for the match against Swaziland and see how it goes,” Chidzambwa said.
Big goalkeeper Chigova is set to be reinstalled between the sticks after being rested in the final group game. Sihlangu take to the field without their top scorer in last year’s tourney, striker Felix Badenhorst, who is involved in Champions League duty with his club AS Vita.
Warriors skipper Ovidy Karuru has already matched the tally of five achieved by last year’s Golden Boot award winner but with the AmaZulu midfielder having a dream Cosafa Castle Cup, he just might set a new record if he continues to find his range.