HARARE - Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa has reiterated the need for his charges to post a positive result in their opening match of the 2016 African Nations Championships (Chan) against Zambia tomorrow afternoon at the Umuganda Stadium in Rubavu, Rwanda.
Pasuwa says their destiny hinges upon their opening encounter which would likely determine how far the Warriors will go in the tournament hence a win against neighbours Zambia would be important.
The Warriors are in Rwanda for the fourth edition of the Chan tournament where they are in Group D together with Mali, Zambia and Uganda.
And after finishing fourth at the last edition in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2014 Pasuwa’s men are hoping for another fairy-tale run in Rwanda and the former Dynamos gaffer said the team’s opening match against Zambia will set the tone for the whole campaign.
“Of course we are going there to compete not to add numbers,” Pasuwa told the Daily News.
“But again we need to be careful especially considering the type of preparations we had. We did not have the opportunity to assess our players in a game situation and our first game against Zambia will be more like our first friendly match.
“So that game will be very crucial to us in as far as our pedigree is concerned. How we are going to fare in that match will go a long way in determining our stay at this tournament. It is not a secret that we also want to do better than the previous tournament. But all that is going to depend on our first game against Zambia.”
Pasuwa said it is also important to consider that the majority of players in the Chan squad are mostly graduates from the Under-23 and should not be put under too much pressure.
“Also the majority of players in this team are coming from Under-23s, so expecting them to deliver instantly will not be fair on their part.
“It’s a learning curve for some of these players. And as coaches we need to be careful to avoid giving them a lot of pressure,” Pasuwa said.
Captain Hardlife Zvirekwi and his assistant Knox Mutizwa herald the list of locally-based Warriors that also includes CAPS United’s pair of Stephen Makatuka and Joel Ngodzo who are expected to play a huge part in team’s quest.
The Dynamos quartet of defenders Ocean Mushure, Elisha Muroiwa, striker Roderick Mutuma and goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva are also part of the Warriors squad alongside Chicken Inn trio Elvis Chipezeze, Lawrence Mhlanga and Edmore Chirambadare.
Pasuwa is also encouraged by the players’ response to training instructions which have been flawless and inspiring as they hope to make an impact at the tournament that celebrates the crème de la crème of Africa’s local football.
The first edition of the Chan tournament was held in 2009 in Ivory Coast with DR Congo emerging as the champions. The second edition was held in 2011 in Sudan where Tunisia emerged winners whilst Libya won the South African edition in 2014.
Goalkeepers: Tatenda Mukuruva, Donovan Bernard, Elvis Chipezeze
Defenders: Blessing Moyo, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ocean Mushure, Bruce Kangwa, Lawrence Mhlanga, Elisha Muroiwa, Stephen Makatuka Midfielders: Nqobizitha Masuku, Gerald Takwara, Ronald Chitiyo, Marshal Mudewe, Joel Ngodzo, Raphael Manuvire, William Manondo, Farai Madanaga
Strikers: Edmore Chirambadare, Knox Mutizwa, Roderick Mutuma, Francesco Zekumbawire, Moses Demera