War­riors in Congo test

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Makom­borero Mu­timukulu Sports Ed­i­tor

THE War­riors touched down in Congo mid­morn­ing yes­ter­day, nearly 24 hours af­ter they had left Harare, with tal­is­man Khama Bil­liat say­ing the lads are ready to do the busi­ness.

Bil­liat be­lieves the War­riors — who had spent the night in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, be­fore con­nect­ing to Braz­zav­ille — will not tank at the Stade Alphonse Massmba De­bat.

“Look we are not un­der any il­lu­sions about how dif­fi­cult this mis­sion is but we are also aware of what we are ca­pa­ble of. We al­ways back our­selves whether we are play­ing at home or away,” said the Kaizer Chiefs man.

“We had a good camp, trav­elled well, and are ready to im­ple­ment what we worked on at train­ing.

“Congo want to bounce back hav­ing lost their open­ing game but we are also equally hun­gry, we want to fol­low up on the win against Liberia with an­other pos­i­tive re­sult.”

The Group G Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier kicks off at 16:30 hours and is ex­pected to be broad­cast live on Su­per­sport.

Bil­liat sat out train­ing for most of the week be­cause of a tight ham­string but the mid­fielder, who turned 28 on the 19th of last month, re­vealed that he is good to go.

“I am ready and rar­ing to go. It was just a case of be­ing cau­tious and not push­ing my­self be­cause such in­juries are del­i­cate but ev­ery­thing is fine now,” he said.

“You know play­ing for the na­tional team is the ul­ti­mate hon­our and each time I wear that War­riors jersey, it’s all about giv­ing all I can.

“Ev­ery­one in the team is fired up, we want max­i­mum points.”

But the War­riors are un­likely to go all gung-ho on the hosts who are keen on col­lect­ing their first points of the cam­paign hav­ing lost their open­ing en­counter 1-3 to the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo.

Coach Sun­day “Mhofu” Chidzambwa spent most of the week em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of de­fen­sive dis­ci­pline, not­ing that an early go for Congo will force his men to chase the game.

“We won our open­ing game against Liberia and they lost to the DRC but that can­not be used to gauge how this game will go. This is a dif­fer­ent ball game al­to­gether,” said Chidzambwa.

“Yes we want to win ev­ery match we play and will at­tack Congo but we will have to be cau­tious as we go about it.

“We are play­ing a very good team away from home and there is no need for us to open the game. There must be the right bal­ance be­tween de­fend­ing and at­tack­ing.

“We have worked on a game plan that will give us that bal­ance, the boys have grasped the game plan we have for Congo and are rar­ing to go.”

In­di­ca­tions are that Evans Rusike will be de­ployed as the lone striker with Bil­liat and skip­per Knowl­edge Mu­sona of­fer­ing pace and width down the wings.

Mean­while, the hosts are equally con­fi­dent of vic­tory de­spite hav­ing only won one of their last five Af­con qual­i­fiers.

The win, a 1-0 home won over Guinea Bis­sau in Septem­ber 2016, is sand­wiched by draw against Zam­bia, a 2-1 de­feat away in Kenya and the 1-3 hum­bling they got in Kin­shasa in June last year.

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