Knowledge power, brilliant Billiat key to Zim’s Afcon dream
ZIMBABWE return to the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time hoping to shrug off their minnows tag after failing to make it beyond the group stages in 2004 and 2006.
The southern African nation is pinning its dreams on players such as Belgium-based striker Knowledge Musona, who is leading scorer at top-flight side KV Oostende, and Khama Billiat, who had a strong season at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Zimbabwe, who rank 102 in the world and 29 in Africa, won four of their six qualifying matches for the top African football showcase in Gabon next month despite being dogged by financial woes.
The country’s football association is saddled with debt and has at times failed to pay players’ allowances and often relies on well-wishers to cover wages for players and coaches.
An economic crisis and cash shortage has seen football match attendance figures plummeting.
Last year the country was expelled from the 2018 World Cup preliminary competition over non-payment of a $67 000 (about R913 880) debt to former coach José Claudinei Georgini, better known by his nickname Valinhos.
Zimbabwe face formidable opponents in Group B, which includes Senegal perched on the top rung on the continent, and Tunisia and Algeria, who are third and fifth respectively.
Veteran Harare-based football analyst Stanley Katsande said the team have the potential to shine at the 16-team tournament despite being counted as continental underdogs.
“Zimbabwe had a very impressive record during the qualifiers,” Katsande told AFP.
“They may not be the group winners but the boys will definitely leave a huge impression at the tournament despite being lowly-ranked.
“While many think they will be the punching bag of the group, I am not expecting an early flight back home. They face the best teams on the continent. – Cafonline.com