'Warriors can reach Chan finals'

HARARE - Warriors playmaker Raphael Manuvire has set his sights on at least reaching the finals at the upcoming 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) to be held in Rwanda later this month.

The Warriors are currently in camp preparing for the tournament and are scheduled to fly out to Gisenyi next week where they will get their campaign off the ground with a date against neighbours Zambia on January 19.

The former ZPC Kariba star, who recently signed for ambitious side Harare City, and is expected to play a key role in the Warriors campaign, feels they have quality players and has tipped the team to go beyond the group stages at the tournament.

“Everybody wants us to do well in the Chan tournament. We have been drawn in a very tough group, but we will be capable to fight,” Manuvire said.

“I think we have got a balanced squad, a mixture of youngsters and experienced players. And with the type of players we have, I think we can reach the finals.

“The good thing is, everyone is committed and we are pushing each other to work hard. If we maintain the same spirit then nothing can stop us from doing well at the tournament.”

Manuvire had a memorable 2015 season after overcoming a career-threatening fractured leg midway through the 2014 season.

The former Douglas Warriors star was outstanding throughout last season which saw him being voted among the best 11 players in the domestic league and is confident of replicating the form when the tournament starts.

“I always want to do well each time I am given the opportunity.

“The Chan also presents players with an opportunity to market themselves outside,” Manuvire said.

“I hope to go and give my best. It’s not about me only though, it’s about the whole team and if we can combine well we will definitely go far.”

The last Chan finals brought to the fore the talents of goalkeeper George Chigova as well as defenders Patson Jaure and Eric Chipeta, who subsequently joined Absa Premiership sides and have since become full internationals.

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

The Warriors, who were seeded due to their previous good performances at the competition, are in Group D where they will face Zambia, Mali and Uganda and all their group matches will be played at the Rubavu Stadium in Gisenyi.

The team’s preparations were however, dealt a blow after five players were released from camp following injuries, ultimately ruling them out of the tournament.

After losing skipper Danny Phiri and goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya earlier, Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa and his assistants will have to juggle around after midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu, defender Teenage Hadebe and striker Hillary Bakacheza were sent home due to different ailments.

Pasuwa had initially called 32 players in camp and is now left with 27 players and is expected to name his 23-man final squad before the team leaves for Rwanda.

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