Sibanda, Chipeta rally Warriors

HARARE - The Zimbabwe national football team must not give much respect to Morocco in the opening match at the African Nations Championship (Chan) according to Charles Sibanda and Eric Chipeta.

Midfielder Sibanda and defender Chipeta have urged their teammates to disregard history when they face the Atlas Lions at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa on January 12.

Zimbabwe are yet to win against the Atlas Lions after three previous meetings.

The Warriors, who touched down in Johannesburg yesterday, open their Chan account against Morocco before facing Uganda on January 16 and then Burkina Faso on January 20 to round up their Group B schedule.

Warriors coach Ian Gorowa and his charges hope to get a better idea of what to expect at the tournament that celebrates the crème de la crème of Africa’s local football when they face Gabon today in a pre-tournament friendly.

FC Platinum midfielder Sibanda, whose solitary strike against Zambia sealed Zimbabwe’s passage to their third Chan appearance, hopes to make a big impact at the tournament.

“We are looking forward to go all the way to the final,” Sibanda said.

“Everybody is putting 100 percent at training. We don’t want to disappoint everybody who has helped us along the way.”

Sibanda, who was voted the country’s finest player after helping Motor Action to their first Castle Lager Premiership trophy in 2010, conceded Morocco will be Zimbabwe’s toughest opponent.

The Atlas Lions come into the tournament riding on the presence of eight Raja Casablanca players, who helped the Moroccan club finish second at the just-ended 2013 Fifa World Club Championship.

“For now everybody is looking at Morocco because they have players who reached the final of the Club World Cup,” he said.

“But we should not show them respect because we are also big guns in own right. Our strength is that we know each other well. We have been playing with each other for some time now and combinations have gelled.”

Hwange’s rock solid defender Eric Chipeta said the Warriors month long preparations have put the team in the right frame of mind ahead of the continental showpiece exclusively for local based players.

“My ambition is if for us to go all the way to the finals,” the former Highfield United player said.

Zimbabwe’s preparations have not been a bed of roses characterised by late payment of allowances and failure to secure adequate friendly matches.

But the Sprouting Academy product wants his teammates to use those experiences to serve as a motivation when they start their Chan tournament against Morocco.

One of our strongest points is team spirit,” the former DStv Rangers player said.

“Most of the guys know that we are not the best equipped sporting country. But they soldier on. And that resilience will carry the day for us at the tournament.”

Warriors’ team manager Sharif Mussa said the side who want to get their campaign off to a winning start when they face the North Africans calling on the side to have “character discipline”.

“I’m sure with the preparations we have had we will have a positive result and God willing we will come out on top. The trainer have been impressed with the progress the players have made in the little time we have had and now it’s up to the players to go out there and deliver,” Sharif Mussa said.

Zimbabwe Squad

Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Dube (CAPS United), Munyaradzi Diya (Highlanders).

Defenders: Oscar Machapa (Dynamos) , Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United) , Augustine Mbara (Dynamos), Felix Chindungwe (Chicken Inn), Themba Ndlovu (Dynamos), Eric Chipeta (Hwange), Partson Jaure (Dynamos).

Midfielders: Masimba Mambare (Highlanders), Tawanda Muparati (Dynamos) , Danny Phiri (Chicken Inn), Pascal Manhanga (Triangle), Charles Sibanda (FC Platinum), Kuda Mahachi (Chicken Inn), Ali Sadiki, (FC Platinum), Peter Moyo (Highlanders), Milton Ncube (Highlanders).

Strikers: Simba Sithole (How Mine), Nelson Maziwisa (FC Platinum), Simba Sithole (Dynamos), Donald Ngoma (FC Platinum).

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