‘Warriors have what it takes’
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