'Warriors one of the favourites'

HARARE - Zimbabwe football team assistant coach Jairos Tapera has described the African Nations Championships (Chan) draw as fair, and is optimistic the Warriors will pull out a surprise in South Africa next year.

The Warriors were placed in Group B alongside North African giants Morocco, East Africans Uganda and West African side Burkina Faso.

Zimbabwe will be making their third consecutive appearance at the tournament, which is designed specifically for footballers plying their trade in domestic leagues across the continent.

Having failed to go beyond the group stage in the previous two editions in Ivory Coast (2009) and Sudan (2011), Tapera believes Zimbabwe’s experience will count this time around.

“The fact that we were one of the seeded teams should place us well as one of the favourites,” Tapera told the Daily News yesterday.

“We might have failed to go past the group stages in the previous two editions, but this is a new challenge.  The reality of the modern game is that past glory plays no role in determining results. One thing I know is that the impossible can become possible.

“Every team is a title contender and we are one of them. We have to prove to ourselves that we are capable. Our targets will not be reduced. We have to be together, work hard and see where we go.

“We have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final and win.”

But Tapera was quick to point the need to have adequate preparations.

“We only need adequate preparations. There is need for the team to have friendly matches with teams of the same level with our opponents. There is also need for every Zimbabwean to rally behind the team.

“I think if we are given enough resources, we can get as far as the final. The good thing is we are all using local players and some of these leagues we follow them and we are far much better.”

The Warriors will get their Chan underway against the Atlas Lions of Morocco on January 12, a day after the tournament rolls into life on January 11.

Mozambique and hosts South Africa will clash in the opening match of the tournament at Cape Town Stadium.

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