Warriors take on Morocco

HARARE - Following a chaotic 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and a fourth straight failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, Zimbabwe are seeking some measure of redemption when they start their African Nations Championship campaign today.

The Warriors open their 2014 Chan finals account with a date against Group B favourites the Atlas Lions of Morocco at Athlone Stadium, in the coastal city of Cape Town, hoping to get their Group B fight off to a positive start.

The match kicks-off at 5pm.

The Warriors will then take on Uganda on January 16 at the same venue before concluding their group programme with a match against Burkina Faso four days later.

Seeking nothing short of a berth in the knockout stages, the Warriors will aim to use this opportunity to confound doubters and assert some measure of dominance on the continental scene.

After several failures to secure qualification for major tournaments, very few will argue that there has not been much for the ardent local football fan to shout about.

In truth, the Warriors have regressed since their maiden and last qualification for the Afcon finals in 2004 and 2006.

Since then their fortunes have nose-dived under successive coaches with neither seemingly able to achieve their objectives.

But under new coach Ian Gorowa, Zimbabwe have been showing some encouraging signs of resurgence.

They will be hoping to continue that momentum during a tournament reserved for the crème de la crème of Africa’s local football.

Only those players plying their trade in their home countries are allowed to take part in the Chan competition.

The Warriors will feel the Chan tournament is a chance to assert themselves as one of the top teams on the continent.

Zimbabwe’s Castle Premiership stars, who are usually on the fringes of the Warriors squad, will hope to use this opportunity to stake a claim in the senior national team.

Having beaten Mozambique, Gabon and lost to Ajax Cape Town in their pre-tournament warm-up matches, Gorowa’s charges will hope to take those experiences when they come up against the Atlas Lions, who will be buoyed by the heavy presence of Raja Casablanca players.

Raja made history when they reached the final of the Fifa Club World Club competition held in Morocco at the end of last year.

The Moroccan club lost the final 2-0 to reigning European giants Bayern Munich.

Zimbabwe can, however, call upon the experience of players like Oscar Machapa, Charles Sibanda, and Tawanda Muparati, Hardlife Zvirekwi, who are expected to play a leading role in stabilising the ship.

Warriors’ team manager Sharif Mussa feels the technical team has done everything to prop up their charges ahead of the tournament adding “now it’s up to the players to go out there and deliver.”


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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