'We play better away'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's stand-in captain Esrom Nyandoro believes the Warriors will put on a better performance away to Angola on Sunday than they did in the first leg.

The Warriors travel to the Angolan capital carrying a healthy 3-1 lead from the first leg at Rufaro Stadium last month, hoping to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa.

Nyandoro, who will be wearing the armband in the absence of injured goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, believes the Warriors always raise their game whenever they play away from the largely demanding home fans.

“I normally believe that when we play away from home we do better than what we do when we are at home,” the veteran Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder told reporters after yesterday’s evening training session.

“The important thing is to urge the boys to go out there and enjoy themselves. When we played Angola here, our strongest point was the speed of our wingers like Khama Billiat.

“So I think there is a headache for the coaches because we now have more players like Kingston (Nkatha), who can run and there is also Knowledge (Musona).”

Warriors fans are a hard to please lot and whenever the team is at home one can easily detect the nerves in the players’ body language.

One loose pass or failure to control the ball from a Warriors player often sparks a roar of jeers from the stands.

 “We have a good opportunity, but it’s not going to be an easy game and we have to prepare ourselves mentally,” said the former AmaZulu midfielder.

“We just have to urge the boys to concentrate for the entire 90 minutes, but like I said, it won’t be easy.”

The Warriors have failed to qualify for the last three editions of the Nations Cup, and failure to seal passage to next year’s finals in neighbouring South Africa will send the football-crazy nation into mourning.

Zimbabwe, however, find themselves in a very good position to qualify this time around, a factor Nyandoro attributed to the team’s fighting spirit under adversity.   

“I think this has to go down to the technical team who have taken away the pressure from the boys,” he said.

“It hasn’t been easy especially in our last game against Angola; obviously some of the boys didn’t turn up because their letters were not sent. But we had the belief and the fighting spirit that helped us prevail over Angola and we just have to believe at the end of the day. I think with better preparations we will have a good game. I think with this game, we are just gonna go out there and enjoy ourselves.”

Nyandoro says his responsibility as captain does not add pressure on his shoulders.

Coach Rahman Gumbo is expected to trim his squad ahead of tonight’s departure for Luanda at 12 midnight.

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