BELIEF and pride will be key when the senior national men’s soccer team, the Warriors troop into the giant National Sports Stadium for a crucial African Cup of Nations (AFCON) preliminary round, second leg tie against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania on Sunday.
The Warriors need to win by a margin of two clear goals following their morale sapping 1-0 defeat in Dar es Salaam a fortnight ago.
Zimbabwe fell to a 13th minute strike by striker John Bocco that left Tanzania fancying their chances of a surprise passage into the second round of the marathon qualifiers.
But that should not deter the Warriors as a goals galore exhibition will be in the offing as the boys will no doubt win this encounter not because of anything else, but the fact that we are Zimbabwe.
This is where we will draw our strength from.
The spirit of being Zimbabwean and the pride that comes with being Zimbabwean.
Our resilience as a people, as a nation will be our biggest asset on Sunday.
After a woeful display in the shock defeat in Tanzania, Warriors gaffer Ian Gorowa will be looking forward to unleashing the arsenal at his disposal for what should be routine victory for Zimbabwe.
The Warriors have been buoyed by the return to the fold of the quartet of Willard Katsande, Ovidy Karuru, Denver Mukamba and Edward Sadomba who are expected to provide both grit and experience needed at this level.
An early goal will unsettle the Taifa Stars and our strike force which was blunt in the first leg will need to be sharpened up to carve open the Tanzanians who will likely seek to defend their one-goal cushion.
Although Tanzania have the edge, it is their poor record on the road that should give the Warriors reason to believe.
The Taifa Stars have only won once in their last eight World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
But that does not mean the Warriors should rest on their laurels as a goal by the Taifa Stars will complicate matters for us.
Gorowa will need to strike a seemingly difficult balancing act of attacking and not leaving space behind.
But Gorowa is not new to such challenges.
As a player, he was a battle hardened star who formed part of Harare giants, Dynamos all conquering team in the late 1990s.
On the other hand, star striker Sadomba comes into the fold on the back of his recent successes in the CAF Champions League safari where he has so notched an incredible five goals thus far.
Duduza, as Sadomba is affectionately known, will have to step up to the plate after indifferent performances in national team colours.
In Katsande, despite his recent shenanigans, the Warriors have a trusted man to cover the defence shield of the midfield after a largely successful season with South African giants Kaizer Chiefs.
The Chiefs hardman will have to be on the lookout for the Taifa Stars stand-in captain and midfielder Amri Kiemba who scored in their 1-0 victory over Malawi in a friendly international in Dar Es Salaam on Tuesday.
The Warriors have also been rocked by injuries with the Highlanders duo of Peter Moyo and midfield maestro Kuda Mahachi ruled out of the tie.
Pull-outs have also stalked the Taifa Stars with reports indicating that inspirational midfielder Mbwana Samata and his TP Mazembe colleague Thomas Ulimwengu could miss the encounter after the DRC giants refused to release them.
TP Mazembe play Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek in the CAF Champions League next weekend.
Playing to the Warriors’ advantage is the decision by the football governing body ZIFA to slash gate charges to US$2 for the rest of the ground.
A capacity crowd at the 65 000 seater National Sports Stadium is expected on Sunday.
The fans will provide the much needed support for the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Bernard Camille of Seychelles will be the referee.
He will be assisted by Hensley Danny Petrousse and Gerald Pool while Nelson Emile Gred will be the fourth official.
The match commissioner William Makinati Shongwe will be coming from Swaziland.
The Taifa Stars are expected this afternoon.
We say to the Warriors go and deliver the 3-1 victory we are expecting.
Rise above and shine boys.
Bhora mugedhi/ibhola egedini!
Goalkeepers: George Chigova, Munyaradzi Diya, Washington Arubi
Defenders: Hardlife Zvirekwi, Eric Chipeta, Partson Jaure, Milton Ncube, Ronald Pfumbidzai
Midfielders: Willard Katsande, Denver Mukamba, Danny Phiri, Pasca Manhanga, Talent Chawapiwa, Ovidy Karuru, Marshal Mudehwe
Strikers: Tendai Ndoro, Edward Sadomba, Kuda Musharu, Cuthbert Malajila