Warriors gear up for Angola

HARARE - It was serious business for the first time this week at the Zimbabwe national football team training session yesterday as players went through their fitness tests ahead of Sunday’s crucial match against Angola.

Zimbabwe takes on the Palancas Negras in the first leg of the 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier at Rufaro Stadium before travelling for the second leg in Luanda in October.

Local fitness expert, Gerald Maguranyanga, conducted the fitness tests and he is expected to avail his results to the Warriors technical today.

Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo will use the fitness tests results to shape his team selection decisions along the week before naming his starting XI ahead of Sunday’s match.

At yesterday’s morning session, Gumbo had 14 players from the 25 he called up last week.

All the locally-based players called up reported for training while Abbas Amidu, Khama Billiat, Arnold Chaka and Oscar Machapa were the only foreign-based players who trained.

Warriors team manager Nyika Chifamba was pleased with the team’s first day of serious preparation.

“So far so good because all the locally-based players are here and four have come from outside the country. The remainder will come today or tomorrow, which is good,” Chifamba said.

“We are expecting all the payers based in South Africa to be here today expect for (captain and goalkeeper) Tapuwa Kapini, who is injured and will arrive tomorrow. We have agreed that his club will release him and he can be assessed by our own doctors."

“This test is very important because we don’t know the fitness levels of these players. They are coming from different leagues and different teams. It’s important for the coaches to assess the fitness of each player so that they don’t have someone who is not fit.”

Meanwhile, Black Leopards striker Abbas Amidu is optimistic the Warriors will get the much-needed home win to take to Luanda.

Amidu makes his comeback to the team after missing the Warriors’ last three internationals against Guinea, Mozambique and Burundi due to injury.

“This is a must-win game for us because it’s been a while since we qualified for the Afcon finals some six years back,” Amidu told the Daily News yesterday.

“As for us the youngsters coming into the team, we need to push hard and we will have help from the senior guys like Tinashe Nengomasha, Esrom Nyandoro and Tapuwa Kapini, who have been there before. We need to win Sunday’s game so that we go to Angola without any pressure. This means we have to defend well and not let Angola get an away goal.”    

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