Warriors remain upbeat

HARARE - Zimbabwe football team coach Rahman Gumbo is positive about his team’s chances of defeating Angola in tomorrow’s African Nations Cup qualifier at Rufaro Stadium despite the no-show of several key players.

Team manager Nyika Chifamba confirmed the absence of Germany-based striker Knowledge Musona and veteran midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha of Bidvest Wits because their clubs wanted a 14-day notice before releasing them for national duty.

“Knowledge is not coming. He would have wanted to come but his team wanted (a) 14 days (notice)”, said Chifamba during a press conference in the Rufaro Stadium boardroom yesterday.

“He also says he is injured. He only told me yesterday that he is injured.

“Tinashe is not coming for the same reasons. His club says they received the notice late.”

Injured Warriors skipper Tapuwa Kapini jetted into the country yesterday afternoon but his availability for the crucial qualifier is dependent on him passing a late fitness test.

Despite the potential absence of the three key players, Gumbo put a brave face yesterday and called on the nation to rally behind the team.

“We have been having problems getting the players but the players (in camp) are positive,” said Gumbo.
“They are looking forward to the game. The team is almost done.

“I am almost settled on the team that I will use; I am 90 percent. We have got almost enough knowledge on them (Angola). We have done our homework on them. What we only need is to be united. This team belongs to all Zimbabweans. The nation has to be united.”

The former FC Platinum coach, who admitted that Zifa’s financial position had hampered the team’s preparations, reserved special praise for the local-based players for their commitment to the national team.

“We have almost nine local-based players. They have shown hunger and commitment. They are committed to take Zimbabwe to the next level.”

Warriors legend Peter Ndlovu, who is the team’s assistant coach, has urged the current Zimbabwe crop of players to write their own piece of history by helping secure the nation’s third appearance at Afcon.

“I am excited because we are on the verge. It is up to the boys because they are on the verge. The coach has instilled in them the confidence and it is up to them to showcase their talents,” Ndlovu said.

Judging by the team’s practice match at the match venue against Harare City yesterday, it looks like Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda will guard Zimbabwe’s goals should Kapini fail the fitness test.

The other locally-based players likely to start against the Angolans are Dynamos midfielder Denver Mukamba and Hwange’s Rodwell Chinyengetere.

With Musona out, the goal-scoring burden appears destined to fall on the shoulders of new Orlando Pirates striker Takesure Chinyama and Quincy Antipas, who has reportedly secured a deal with a top Danish side.

Carlington Nyadombo and Esrom Nyandoro, who impressed against Burundi in June, are sure bets to get the nod in central defence.

Whilst the deployment of Vusa Nyoni at left-back and Noel Kaseke at right-back as well as Khama Billiat on the left side of midfield is almost predictable, the use of former Dynamos midfielder Archford Gutu as the anchorman will raise a few eyebrows.

Oscar Machapa, who looked visibly a little far from full fitness and Onismor Bhasera, who took no part in yesterday’s match, could force their way into the team if they prove their fitness today.

PROBABLE TEAM


Tapuwa Kapini/ Ariel Sibanda, Noel Kaseke, Denver Mukamba, Vusa Nyoni, Carlington Nyadombo, Esrom Nyandoro, Archford Gutu/ OscarMachapa, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Denver Mukamba, Khama Billiat, Takesure Chinyama.

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