‘War­riors have what it takes’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

loss. THE War­riors are ca­pa­ble of brew­ing a shocker at the 2017 To­tal African Cup of Na­tions fi­nals de­spite be­ing drawn against tra­di­tional con­ti­nen­tal giants, ac­cord­ing to two play­ers that were part of the 2004 fi­nals squad that beat Al­ge­ria 2-1.

Ar­guably the best mid­fielder of his gen­er­a­tion, Ron­ald “Gidiza” Sibanda and for­mer hard-run­ning de­fender Bekithemba “Su­per” Ndlovu believe the War­riors have the ar­se­nal to progress beyond the group stages.

Zim­babwe scored in the 64th minute through the late Adam Ndlovu and Joel Luphahla in the 70th minute to seal their de­but Af­con fi­nals win.

Other play­ers that formed the 2004 side in­clude goal­keeper Ta­puwa Kap­ini, steely de­fend­ers Kai­tano Tembo and Dumisani Mpofu, Tear­away striker Peter Ndlovu, Dick­son Choto, Ti­nashe Nen­go­masha and Har­ling­ton Shereni.

“The Al­ge­ri­ans are very dan­ger­ous in mid­field; their pass­ing is quick and are gen­er­ally quite a mo­bile side. Our mid­field will be key to us, but I believe we have play­ers that can play the ball well,” said Sibanda.

He said the Al­ge­ri­ans were also com­fort­able on the ball and Zim­babwe need to pres­sure them ev­ery time they have pos­ses­sion.

“I refuse to ac­cept the min­nows’ tag. We can’t just give up be­fore we even play. It’s tough, yes, but we have to fight like men. In foot­ball, rank­ings are mean­ing­less,” Sibanda said.

His 2004 team­mate Ndlovu said Zim­babwe must en­sure Al­ge­ria do not play their nor­mal pass­ing game.

“We must frus­trate them and make sure they don’t play their nor­mal game. The more it stays a stale­mate, the bet­ter for us be­cause they will at­tack more and be bound to open up at the back, which will al­low us to pounce. We have speedy play­ers in the likes of (Knowl­edge) Mu­sona and Khama Bil­liart,” said Ndlovu.

He said it was ob­vi­ous the Al­ge­ri­ans would at­tack from the first whis­tle to try and fin­ish off “th­ese min­nows as early as pos­si­ble”.

“The other thing about Al­ge­rian play­ers, just like most North Africans, is that they are very tem­per­a­men­tal. They eas­ily re­tal­i­ate and that will make them prone to cards, so we must frus­trate them with our game plan,” Ndlovu said.

He also felt that the War­riors’ group is not as tough as some ob­servers had de­clared.

“The draw, ac­cord­ing to me is fine. We can and must shock them. If Zam­bia did it against the so called mighty Côte d’Ivoire, why can’t we do it? Right now Mamelodi Sun­downs, whose star player is our very own Bil­liat, are on the verge of lift­ing the Caf Cham­pi­ons League at the ex­pense of the feared Za­malek. What can surely pre­vent our boys from do­ing the same,” the for­mer High­landers cap­tain, who is now an as­sis­tant coach at How Mine, said.

Al­ge­ria have beaten Zim­babwe twice in the five matches they have played and they have not reg­is­tered a win since the War­riors beat them in 2004. The Desert Foxes man­aged a 1-1 and 2-2 draws in World Cup qual­i­fiers against Zim­babwe. Zim­babwe have beaten Sene­gal four times and lost three times to the West Africans who have never won the Af­con. Zim­babwe and Tu­nisia have never met in any com­pet­i­tive match at se­nior level, al­though they reg­is­tered iden­ti­cal 1-1 draws in friendlies in 1998. Al­ge­ria and Tu­nisia have one Af­con win­ners’ medal each. Al­ge­ria lifted the tro­phy in 1990, while Tu­nisia did the same in 2004. The War­riors take on Al­ge­ria in their open­ing match on Jan­uary 15 be­fore tak­ing on Sene­gal on Jan­uary 19 and wind­ing up their group cam­paign against Tu­nisia on Jan­uary 23. — @skhu­moyo2000.

Erol Ak­bay Ton­derai Ndi­raya Wil­lard Kat­sande

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