War­riors ready for bat­tle

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Ed­die Chikamhi

ZIFA vice-pres­i­dent Omega Sibanda has ral­lied the War­riors to de­fend the na­tional flag and cheer the na­tion’s spir­its when they en­gage the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo in an African Cup of Na­tions Group G top of the ta­ble qual­i­fier on Satur­day night.

With Zim­babwe and DRC shar­ing the same num­ber of points — four — and only be­ing sep­a­rated by goal dif­fer­ence, there will be a num­ber of sub-plots when the War­riors and the Leop­ards clash in back to back night en­coun­ters.

Sun­day Chidzambwa’s men flew out of Harare in the evening via Jo­han­nes­burg and were ex­pected in Kin­shasa shortly be­fore mid­night where Zifa com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­pe­ti­tions man­ager Xolisani Gwe­sela had al­ready trav­elled as an ad­vance party.

Gwe­sela said all seemed in place for the bat­tle on the ar­ti­fi­cial turf of the Com­plexe Om­nis­ports de Stade Mar­tyrs in Kin­shasa.

Cru­cially for the War­riors was the ral­ly­ing call they re­ceived from the Zifa lead­er­ship.

Sibanda who was ac­com­pa­nied by board mem­ber fi­nance Phile­mon Machana told Chidzambwa and his men that they had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to cheer a na­tion whose spir­its had been de­flated by the mad­ness that has been char­ac­terised by the un­ex­pected price dis­tor­tions and the long queues for fuel.

The War­riors are also aware that they need a pos­i­tive re­sult in DRC to make the job eas­ier in the re­turn leg at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium next Tues­day.

“As Zifa we are be­hind you guys. We are happy to have a team of play­ers like you. Play­ers who are com­mit­ted to make Zim­babwe known in terms of foot­ball.

“So guys, please go and fight for our coun­try and make sure that we de­stroy DRC.

“It will be much eas­ier if we bring home at least a point, that is, if we can­not beat them there. But if ev­ery­thing else fails, then we have to come and hit them for five here to re­venge for what they would have done to us.

“But I know with the kind of play­ers such as we have, we are go­ing to win. So we are be­hind you guys. Go well, travel well and let’s make sure we be­have. Let’s go and fo­cus on our core busi­ness, which is play­ing foot­ball,” said Sibanda.

The vet­eran ad­min­is­tra­tor also wel­comed new­boy Ten­dayi Darikwa into the na­tional team set up af­ter the Bri­tish born 26-year-old de­fender fi­nally se­cured the doc­u­ments to rep­re­sent his fa­ther­land.

Sibanda said the War­riors should not be in­tim­i­dated by the big names in the DRC squad.

“The main ob­jec­tive is to make sure that we win as a team and cel­e­brate as a team. Let’s make our names known all over the world by beat­ing DRC.

“We know where they come from and we are not scared of them. What we want is a win. Good luck as you go there. Make sure you raise our flag as high as pos­si­ble. That’s all we want. That you can do, we know. We have con­fi­dence in you. As new play­ers are com­ing, let’s em­brace them and go to­gether as a team,” said Sibanda.

Chidzambwa did not have to go through much hus­tles to set­tle for his fi­nal trav­el­ling squad yes­ter­day as 17 play­ers turned up for the morn­ing train­ing ses­sion, which was the only prac­tice they had be­fore de­par­ture.

The Bel­gian-based duo of mid­fielder Mar­vel­lous Nakamba and skip­per Knowl­edge Mu­sona ar­rived later in the day, in time to travel to­gether with the rest of the squad.

But South Africa-based de­fender Di­vine Lunga was ruled out be­cause of in­jury while Eric Chipeta of Cape Umoya, who strug­gled with his game in Braz­zav­ille, was con­spic­u­ous by his ab­sence.

Chidzambwa was also pleased with the con­di­tion of his play­ers.

“I think from what I have seen, the guys are fit. I can say most of them are fit and we are still wait­ing for Knowl­edge and Nakamba who are due to ar­rive this af­ter­noon (yes­ter­day) and hope­fully we are go­ing to have a fit squad and we also want to try and bring a good re­sult for the na­tion,” said Chidzambwa.

Not­ting­ham For­est de­fender Darikwa said he was look­ing for­ward to his de­but in a com­pet­i­tive as­sign­ment for the War­riors.

On the only two oc­ca­sions that Darikwa had a dance with the War­riors was dur­ing friendly matches against Le­sotho and Namibia last year.

Darikwa said he was happy with the way he had been re­ceived in the squad and is now look­ing to make his con­tri­bu­tions count.

He said he was aware of the mag­ni­tude of the task in the War­riors’ hands as he knows some of the DRC play­ers from Europe where the bulk of the Leop­ards squad has been plucked from.

“They have got a good squad. Most of their play­ers play in Europe and some of them play in the same divi­sion that I play in so I know a few of them. Ba­si­cally, it’s go­ing to be a tough game but at the end of the day I think it’s all about us go­ing there and be brave, and be­lieve in our team and what we can do.

“I can play any­where (de­fen­sively) on the pitch. If the man­ager wants me to play any of the po­si­tions, I will be happy to do that and I will help the team.

“First of all it’s im­por­tant not to lose. We are both tied on four points, so I think to avoid de­feat first of all, es­pe­cially in the away game will be im­por­tant for us. But like I said we are go­ing into ev­ery game look­ing to win,” said Darikwa.

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