IF every Warriors player possessed a fraction of Willard Katsande’s uncontainable gusto, positivity and buoyancy, then beating visiting Guinea in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow, could be a mere formality.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Warriors captain is fully aware that chances of qualifying for the finals, which would probably be the last for Katsande and most of his senior teammates in the squad, rest in getting maximum points in this one.
With Group L containing beatable opponents like Swaziland and Malawi, the Kaizer Chiefs hard-man knows that beating this Ibrahima Traoré-less side tomorrow is absolutely crucial.
Maximum points here and the Kalisto Pasuwa-coached Warriors will open a six-point advantage against what is perhaps their genuine threat in the race to the Afcon finals.
“Everyone in camp knows what is at stake and what’s expected of us. We know what we have to do if we have to qualify. We have to beat Guinea, it’s as simple as that. With the type of players we have in camp, there is no way we can lose on Sunday. We have got very good strikers who can win us any match. The team is capable of scoring goals, but we also have to be disciplined at the back. People might talk about Guinea having players based all over Europe, but there is no way they will beat us. That will not happen. If we win this match, we would have made a huge stride in our quest of qualification. ” said Katsande.
He added, “People are talking about this group as the most talented that has been assembled in a very long time, but we need to prove that notion by qualifying for the finals. I have spoken to the guys that we need to push harder in this campaign so that we can also experience the Afcon finals. This is probably the last chance for most of us the senior guys in the team and we can’t let it slip. It’s a dream of every player to compete at Afcon, that even at the time of retirement you look back and smile.
“The supporters should come and rally behind us.
They must be patient with us, they shouldn’t boo us or support on club affiliations. We are one, this is the national team which requires us to be united against the enemy,” concluded Katsande.
Another senior player Costa Nhamoinesu will be marking his return to the national team after a long time on Sunday, and the highly rated left-back has promised to transfer his high-volume performances with Sparta Praha into the Warriors.
“In as much as the supporters will expect a lot from Costa but football is a team sport and for us to win it has to be team work. As a defender my number one target is not to concede a goal but obviously this is a target for the whole team.
“I have trained with the guys for the past few days and have seen that everyone is ready for the battle. The fact that they all managed to show up for camp shows that they are willing to play and perform for the country so we are hoping for a positive result. We will do everything we can to achieve as much a positive result we can get. My message to the supporters is that we are one nation and we have one goal which is to produce something positive to the nation,” said Nhamoinesu.
Pasuwa has promised to dump his usual ultra-defensive style in favour for an all attack-minded approach.
Indications from the training field are that he is likely to start with five offensive players in Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Mathew Rusike, Cuthbert Malajila and the in-form Nyasha Mushekwi.
In a bid to woo supporters to Rufaro and create an intimidating atmosphere for the opponents, Zifa has pegged the cheapest ticket at $3.
Guinea will be without star man Traoré who has taken a break from international football while France-based Abdoul Camara Razaqui also turned down the national team call.
Zimbabwe and Swaziland top Group L with three points while Guinea and Malawi have zero. The match will be handled by Tswana referee Leonard Lekgotla who will be assisted by his countrymen Bakwena Simankalele and Moemedi Monakwane.
Warriors Probable IX
W Arubi, P Jaure, L Chakoroma, E Chipeta, C Nhamoinesu, W Katsande, K Billiat, M Rusike, K Musona, C Malajila, N Mushekwi.