ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has challenged the Warriors to continue with the momentum they have shown in their international assignments when they plunge back into the trenches of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers this weekend.
The Warriors face plucky Congo in a Group G encounter at Stade Alphonse Massamba Debat in Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon.
The 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers resume this weekend after a lengthy 15-month break that followed the Warriors opening day 3-0 triumph over Liberia, via skipper Knowledge Musona’s fine hat-trick, at the National Sports Stadium on June 11.
Twenty fours earlier, Democratic Republic of Congo had got the Group G games underway with a 3-1 home success over Congo in Brazzaville.
DRC will this weekend travel to Monrovia for a date against Liberia at Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
As the Warriors stepped up their act with everyone who is expected to be in camp for tomorrow’s tour of duty available, the senior team had their morale and confidence levels boosted by a visit to their training session by the ZIFA leadership with Chiyangwa being accompanied by his deputy Omega Sibanda and board member finance Philemon Machana.
ZIFA legal advisor Itai Nduzo was also on hand to lend his support to the Warriors.
After briefly meeting with coach Sunday Chidzambwa and his lieutenants – Rahman Gumbo, Lloyd Mutasa and Brenna Msiska – Chiyangwa and his entourage them interacted with the players imploring them to throw bodies on the line in their big battle in Brazzaville.
“We have come to rally the team and see that the players whose names are being publicised as being in camp are the ones who are here… this team has been doing well,” said Chiyangwa.
“Ever since we took office, with this executive here, we have managed to win a number of matches up to the point we went to AFCON.
“This is another AFCON adventure, we went on to win the COSAFA Cup consecutively and we are the COSAFA champions. We have done well even with the women.
“So, we have come here to give a word to the players, and the technical team, and we told them that we look for nothing less than a victory in Congo.
“All is well, there is no crisis, we wish them well.”
Chiyangwa told the Warriors that he could not travel to watch them in Brazzaville as he must chair a COSAFA executive meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, over the weekend. The ZIFA leadership are also expected to visit the Mighty Warriors camp at the ZIFA Village this morning and boost their morale ahead of their departure for the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa.
Big defender Alec Mudimu, who arrived late on Tuesday night, became the last of the expected troops to join camp and took part in the practice match between the Warriors and Yadah Stars at the National Sports Stadium.
Mudimu, of Welsh Premiership side CEFN Druids, is set to take his bow in a Nations Cup qualifier after impressing at the COSAFA Cup tournament in Polokwane in June. He is the only member of the British Brigade who has so far been able to play for his country while the issue related to the passports of the likes of Kelvin Lunga, Tendayi Darikwa, Adam Chicksen and McCauley Bonne is yet to be resolved.
Mudimu is a sure bet to form the rearguard for goalkeeper George Chigova, who just like the ZIFA president, also rallied the Warriors to win and pile the pressure on Congo.
“We are aware that AFCON is a different game, but I think we can still build on the momentum that we showed during COSAFA,” said Chigova.
“Most of the guys who were in Polokwane are still around in this squad. I also think the guys who are joining us now for this game will no doubt bring another dimension to our team and make it even stronger, so that gives us a lot of confidence that we can go there and do it even though it will be tough.”
Chigova also believes that Congo’s defeat by their bitter rivals DRC will ensure the tide of pressure is more on hosts as they seek to get their campaign off the mark.
“They are difficult to beat at their home, but the pressure is more on them as the home team, they will have the majority of the fans and all we need to do is try to take advantage of that pressure and come back with a positive result. It’s good that most of our players are getting game time at their clubs and, hopefully, they can carry on with the same form for the country.”
Chigova said he was hopeful that the new additions, which Chidzambwa has made to the squad, would “bring with them new dimensions that will make us even stronger”.
Group G fixtures: Sunday
- Congo v Zimbabwe (Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat Brazzaville)
- Liberia v DRC (Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex Monrovia)
- DRC v Zimbabwe (Stade des Martyrs, Kinshasa)
- Congo v Liberia (Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat, Brazzaville)
- Zimbabwe v DRC (National Sports Stadium, Harare)
- Liberia v Congo (Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex Monrovia)