Bring on Chipolopolo!

HARARE - Masimba Mambare, captain of the local-based group of the Zimbabwe football team, insists the Warriors have the pedigree to pass the Zambia test and qualify for their third African Nations Championship (Chan) finals.

The Warriors will host Chipolopolo at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday with the return leg set for the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on Ndola on August 24.

Zimbabwe progressed to the last qualifying round of the competition with a 4-1 aggregate win against lowly Mauritius to set up a showdown with regional rivals Zambia, who beat them 2-0 in the Copperbelt last month to wrestle the Cosafa Cup away from them.

Zambia, bronze medallists at the first Chan tournament in Ivory Coast four years ago, advanced to the last round after beating Botswana 3-1 on aggregate.

The Warriors, who drew one all with Mauritius on Sunday in the second leg, dominated the qualifier but struggled to beat impressive Mauritius goalkeeper Marse Jose, and Mambare knows his side will have to step up a gear if they are to overcome former African champions Chipolopolo over two legs.

“We have played Zambia before and they are tougher opponents than Mauritius,” Mambare told Daily News yesterday.

“It is important we raise our game against Zambia. We played well (on Sunday) but we failed to get the goals. We did everything but at the end of the day, it’s all about scoring goals.

“We were not hungry for goals, but against Zambia we need to be clinical in front of goals. We need to play well like we did against Mauritius and transform our dominance into goals. We need to work on our finishing and composure. We were getting into scoring areas but we couldn’t get the goals.

“We have a good squad and I am confident we can beat Zambia and qualify for the Chan finals.”

The Highlanders forward acknowledged the role of the fans in the match.

"There is willingness and desire on the part of the players to perform and prove themselves which is good for any team that wants to progress,” he said.

"The important thing is to have a winning mentality and ability to return the country to glory days.

"The coach gave new players the opportunity to play.  The fans should understand that the desire and attitude was there but we need time to get to the level that they want us to be."

The Warriors have been to the last two editions of the Chan in Cote d'Ivoire in 2009 and Sudan two years later and now they will be seeking a third successive appearance.

The winner of the second and final round of the qualifiers will advance to the 2014 Chan tournament in South Africa.

Already, hosts South Africa, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria and Uganda have qualified for the finals, to be held in January-February next year.

The Warriors, who remained in camp after the Mauritius game, are expected to resume training today.

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