I've had my time with the Warriors - Esrom

HARARE - It's just after 6pm on Thursday evening at Italian Sports Club and the Zimbabwe national team has just finished its practice match against premiership side Harare City.

Zimbabwe faces Angola in the first leg of the final qualifying round of the 2013 African Nations Cup at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon.

A media gag that had been slapped on the Warriors players had just been lifted by team management that Thursday, allowing the Daily News on Sunday a chance to talk with midfielder Esrom Nyandoro.

The Mamelodi Sundowns player, wearing a green tracksuit and walking with a slight limp on his strapped left ankle, did not show an emotion as he led us into his football journey.

Nyandoro has been an integral part of the Warriors set up since making his debut for the team under Misheck Chidzambwa in the 1-0 win over Malawi in a World Cup qualifier at Rufaro on January 24, 1999.

The 32-year-old talks about representing his country and hints that pretty soon he might be calling time on his Warriors career.

“My career with the national team has been good. This is my 12th year playing for Zimbabwe. I have had some good and bad moments but most of them are good moments,” Nyandoro says.

“I’m one person who loves this country and whenever I’m called up I always honour my call up. I’m just hoping the team qualifies for the Nations Cup and I’ll make up my decision after that.

Nyandoro adds: “There is always a beginning and an ending. I’m not saying I’m retiring but 12 years is a lot. It’s a decision I have to make after consulting my family.”

The Bulawayo-born Nyandoro, who made his breakthrough essentially as a holding midfielder, has now been shifted to centre back both for club and country in recent times.

Despite some concerns from fans, the former AmaZulu player has acquainted himself well despite his advanced age.

In the previous three Warriors matches, Nyandoro has been one of the best players on show in Rahman Gumbo’s team.

“Maybe next game I will play as a striker you never know,” Nyandoro says on his transition from midfield to centre half.

“I grew up as a defender. The most important thing is whether you are comfortable in playing in that position. I’m comfortable in playing in midfield and I’m also comfortable in playing in defence and it has been good. I have no problem with it.

“First for all I would like to thank my teammates; they have been very supportive and obviously I’m not the fastest player on the field.

“I spoke to the coach on the position he wants me to play. He sat down with me before the Burundi game and he wanted me to provide that experience at the back while Tinashe (Nengomasha) provided that experience in midfield.

“We agreed and I said I will guide the guys. At the end of the day it is not always about speed. It’s all about timing and how you read the game. My teammates have been very helpful. We play as a team and when we lose we lose as a team.”

Zimbabwe campaign for Brazil 2014 started on a bad note with a home defeat to Guinea and an away draw with Mozambique.

Nyandoro says: “We play to win games but it’s unfortunate that we didn’t start well. The supporters have to bear with us. We know they want results and if things can be done right we will get results. I don’t want to point fingers or blame anyone but I’m just being honest here. If things are done right we will fight our way up.

“There are small details that need to be changed. Obviously during this campaign the coaches are working hard with limited resources. As the players we just have to do what we need to do.

“As reporters you have seen how the players in camp and we could have expected more players to come in but they didn’t arrive. What can we do? At the end of the day we just have to move on and coming to Sunday’s game it’s just the first half, the second half will be in Angola. Whatever happens we need to lead and not concede at home. Hopefully the team will come good.

“Hopefully things will come our way but like I’m saying things need to be done right and I will not go into detail.”

Obviously Nyandoro’s comments are probably directed at the Zimbabwe Football Association’s (Zifa) administration of the Warriors and the game in general.

Zifa failed to send call-up letters in time resulting in Knowledge Musona (FC Augsburg) and Tinashe Nengomasha (Bidvest Wits) failing to come for today’s match.

There is also the on-going Asiagate match-fixing scandal that has barred Nyandoro’s Sundowns teammates Nyasha Mushekwi and Method Mwanjali from representing Zimbabwe.

“The boys (Mushekwi and Mwanjali) love their country there is no two ways about it. When you are down South there is a competition with our teammates and we always say we are better than South Africa,” Nyandoro says.

“The boys want to come and play for the national team. At the moment they are just waiting for this to end. Like I said they love their country and they want to come back and play. I don’t know why they can’t come and play for their country. It’s up to those who know the law what is stopping them from coming.”

Finally the shift turns to Sundowns in the South African Absa Premiership where the club supporters have put coach Johan Neeskens under extreme pressure owing to poor results.

The Brazilians are 11th on the log after two consecutive defeats and they also bowed out of the MTN Sup8r knockout in the semi-finals at the hands of Moroka Swallows.

“I don’t know what the fuss is about. The pressure is not only on the coach but also on the players as well. We have lost three games in a row and we hope this intentional break will help us rectify our mistakes and get back to winning ways,” he says.

“Everyone is under pressure because Sundowns is a big team and the fans always demand results. If you don’t win they will be angry and even if you win the fans will still say you didn’t play good attractive football. They always want the team to play good football so the pressure is always there.

“It’s a challenge for us the players because it’s not the coach’s responsibility alone. For the past few games we have been playing, I felt we haven’t been doing enough as players. We just have to stand up and raise our hands and say listen the coach is not gonna go out there and play but he just prepares the team at training. It’s our responsibility to perform on the field and that’s what we have not been doing lately.”

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