'It's in our hands'

HARARE - Warriors captain Willard Katsande believes Zimbabwe have their destiny firmly in their hands after the emphatic 4-0 victory over Swaziland at the National Sports Stadium on Monday.

With the victory, the Warriors assumed the lead in Group L and they are now in a strong position to seal their third qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be held in Gabon early next year.

The Warriors are now on eight points while Swaziland dropped to second place in the group on five points.

Guinea resurrected the qualifying campaign with a hard-fought 1-2 win over Malawi yesterday in Blantyre to take their tally to five points.

After the disappointing 1-1 draw at the Somhlolo National Stadium on Good Friday, the Warriors put their campaign back on track with an assured and near-perfect second half performance to blow away Sihlangu.

Knowledge Musona opened the scoring from the spot just after half time before Costa Nhamoinesu’s powerful header at the far post from a Khama Billiat free kick extended the Warriors’ lead.

Evans Rusike scored with virtually his first touch after coming in for Nyasha Mushekwi before Billiat completed the rout with a clinical finish to beat Sihlangu goalkeeper Nhlanhla Gwebu at his near post.

The Warriors now need to only beat Malawi at home in June and avoid defeat in the final group match against Guinea in September.

If Kalisto Pasuwa’s men achieve these two results in their next two matches then they will be among the 16 teams taking part in the finals in Gabon.

“We wanted this win more than anything else. I think we took a giant step towards qualifying for Gabon. I think it’s now in our hands and what we only need to do is to beat Malawi in our next home match,” Katsande said.

“We need to stay focussed and ensure we collect maximum points against Malawi rather than leaving it for the last match. By the time we play our last game against Guinea we should have qualified by then.

Despite dropping two crucial points in the reverse fixture on Good Friday, Katsande said the players never stopped believing in their dream of reaching Gabon.

“We knew we have quality in our team and it was just a matter of time before we get it right. We faced a lot of challenges in our first leg in Swaziland ranging from travelling,” the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder said.

“We travelled more than seven hours by road and also played on artificial turf. It really worked against us. But the response was amazing especially in front of our fans.”

The Warriors captain warned his teammates not to underrate Malawi in the next game as they might live to regret it.

“We should not be carried away by this win against Swaziland. There are no longer any underdogs in modern African football.

“We need to approach the Malawi game with the right attitude,” he said.

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