Southern Africa pins hope on Warriors


A MONDAY night was all the Warriors of Zimbabwe needed to make history at the on-going African Nations Championships (CHAN) in South Africa.
Zimbabwe now carry the hopes of Southern Africa after Mozambique and South Africa crashed out of the tournament in the group stages.
The Warriors sent fans of this soccer-loving nation into delirium after scoring their first goal at this year’s edition of CHAN securing a 1-nil victory over Burkina Faso.
It was Zimbabwe’s first win at the biannual tournament and the victory was enough to qualify the Warriors to the knock-out stage.
Their second place on the Group B log standings set up a date with the Eagles of Mali avoiding the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Mali topped Group A while Nigeria occupied second position.
Therefore group leaders Mali will play the second placed team in Group B, Zimbabwe.
Avoiding Nigeria gives the Warriors more hope of proceeding to the semi-finals.
In the two previous editions of CHAN, Zimbabwe crashed out in the group stages.
Zimbabwe were under the tutelage of Sunday Chidzambwa in 2009 and Madinda Ndlovu in 2011 when they appeared at CHAN.
Zimbabwe had played two goalless draws against Morocco and Uganda before the 1-nil victory.
Controversial Masimba Mambare’s priceless second half goal was met with wild cheers from the hundreds of fans at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.
Even in the streets of Harare, wild cheers could be heard in various neighbourhoods.
The Dynamos bound Mambare headed home a Milton Ncube cross.
In the two goalless draws, Zimbabwe were failing to find the target. They made several attacks on the opponent’s goals, but the strikers lacked precision.
Donald Ngoma, Nelson Maziwisa, the two Simba Sitholes and Ali Sadiki all fluffed chances to score.
Zimbabwe’s bluntness was a cause for concern for Ian Gorowa.
On Monday, the technical team made a few changes to the team that played in the first and second games.
Mambare was in the starting 11 and the move paid off.
Mali on the other hand are a tricky opponent that Zimbabwe need to treat with caution.
Being the Group A log leaders shows that they have the strength to outwit Zimbabwe if the Warriors do not up their game.
In-between the sticks, lanky goalkeeper, George Chigova should be the right man for the job.
So far, he is the only goalkeeper with a clean sheet at the tournament.
The Dynamos shot-stopper has not conceded a goal.
His defence organisation has seen no team scoring against the Warriors in three games.
The defence marshalled by Partson Jaure has been in terrific form. Partnered by Hwange’s Eric Chipeta, the duo has produced a rock solid backline.
Their composure has seen them containing Morocco, Uganda and Burkina Faso.
The backline is likely to remain unchanged as Jaure and Chipeta’s combination has proved to be formidable.
Milton Ncube and Hardlife Zvirekwi are likely to land the left and right back positions respectively.
In the middle of the park, Gorowa entrusted Danny Phiri, Masimba Mambare, Kuda Mahachi and Peter Moyo.
Gorowa made changes to the starting 11 that faced Morocco in the midfield.
Two changes were made in the middle of the park with Pascal Manhanga and Donald Ngoma on the bench while Mambare and Phiri started.
Charles Sibanda and Simba Sithole of How Mine were the two strikers in the last game.
The two made inroads, but it was the midfielders who were hungrier for the goals than the two strikers.
Nelson Maziwisa played in the game against Morocco as a substitute, but he failed to make an impression.
Gorowa has become another history-making coach by reaching the knock out stage of CHAN.
The future looks bright for the gaffer if the country’s soccer governing body, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), give him enough support.
The road to Morocco in 2015 looks bright for Zimbabwe with the current team.
With a few additions of foreign-based players, our qualification for Morocco should be certain.
For Zimbabwe to make progress in football, the coaching job should remain in the hands of the locals as they have already proved a point.
Ghanaian coach Ben Koufie once said Zimbabwe would never succeed even if they get a coach from the moon, but his assertion has been proved wrong by local coaches.


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