Zim ready for Cosafa

HARARE - Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa has declared his charges ready as they begin their quest to defend their Cosafa Castle Cup with a quarter-final clash against Botswana today at New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.

Botswana finished top of Group B to set up a date with the Warriors who begin the tournament in the last eight as one of the seeded teams after winning last year’s edition by beating neighbours Zambia 3-1 in the final.

The Zebras topped the group with seven points from three matches, three ahead of second-placed Angola. Botswana ensured they finished top of the standings in Group B on Friday as they romped to a record 6-0 win over Mauritius.

Chidzambwa and his technical team have been closely monitoring Botswana’s progress at this year’s tournament and will be hoping to find a formula to stop them when the two teams clash.

“I wish to bring the trophy home but obviously we don’t want to put ourselves under any pressure. We are the holders and we will go out there to play for our country and fight to retain the trophy,” Chidzambwa told to the Daily News on Sunday.

“Of course anything is possible in football, sometimes you win sometimes you lose. We have 20 good players and I hope we will be able to defend our title. We have had a couple of days training with a couple of players and I’m happy with the time we have spent working together.

“I’m really pleased with our preparations and I think it’s one of the best preps we have had in a long time.”

Chidzambwa, however, reckons they are not expecting an easy match against Botswana.

“We need to be on high alert; there is no room for complacency. I think we have been following them (Botswana) and they have proved to be a good side, which calls for us to work really hard,” said Chidzambwa.

Botswana have had a decent record in the Cosafa Cup lately as they have only exited in the first round of the tournament on two occasions.

The Zebras were runners-up in 2016 when they lost 3-2 to South Africa in the final in Windhoek, Namibia their best finish to date. They have also reached the semi-finals on three other occasions, in 2006 and 2007, as well as 2015.

The last time the two teams met was in April this year at the National Sports Stadium in Harare and Botswana prevailed 0-1 in a match which marked Zimbabwe’s independence celebrations.

Chidzambwa is using the Cosafa Castle Cup as preparation for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.

In selecting his players Chidzambwa noted that the Warriors were unlikely to have any international friendlies after the Cosafa Castle Cup, with the World Cup set for this month, and it was important he gets a look at his star players in competitive matches.

But his plans were, however, dealt a huge blow after several Europe-based players, who had been called for duty failed to make it for the tournament owing to complications regarding their documentation while others were ruled out through injuries.

And with the bulk of players, who beat Liberia 3-0 last year in their Group G opener courtesy of a Knowledge Musona hat-trick, Sweden-based striker Tino Kadewere and Khama Billiat will be expected to spearhead the team’s attack in their search for a record sixth Cosafa Castle Cup title.

Kadewere has been in great form for his Swedish side Djurgaden and will be desperate to carry that same form to the national team.

Before joining the Warriors camp, the former Harare City forward grabbed the headlines after netting four goals in Djurgaden’s 5-1 win over IK Sirus a little over a week ago.

In the other quarter-final set for today, hosts South Africa face Madagascar at the same venue. The Islanders finished top of Group A to set up a date with the South Africans who, like Zimbabwe begin the tournament in the last eight as one of the seeded teams.

Warriors Squad:

Goalkeepers: George Chigova, Edmore Sibanda, Talbert Shumba

Defenders: Jimmy Dzingai, Kelvin Moyo, Jameson Mukombwe, Alec Mudimu, Devine Lunga, Takudzwa Chimwemwe

Midfielders: Khama Billiat, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Ovidy Karuru, Richard Hachiro, Talent Chawapiwa, Marshal Munetsi

Strikers: Leeroy Mavunga, Abbas Amidu, Tino Kadewere, Evans Rusike, Terrence Dzvukamanja

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