Warriors on the hunt …as the Mighty Warriors seek COSAFA glory

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THE Zimbabwe senior men’s soccer team, the Warriors, go into battle this Sunday in Brazzaville, the Congo, against hosts in a crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match, while their female counterparts, the Mighty Warriors have gone in camp in preparations for the COSAFA Women’s Championships starting Wednesday in Port Elizabeth.
Warriors’ gaffer Sunday Chidzambwa might be spoilt for choice as gems have camped in Harare ahead of the match. Several stars plying their trade in the local premiership, Europe, South Africa and Asia are available for selection.
Zimbabwe will need to come out of Stade Alphonse Massamba Debat with three points if they are to maintain pole position on the Group G log standings.
The Warriors top Group G after beating Liberia 3-0 in the first qualifying match in Harare.
DRC are on second position after beating neighbours the Congo 3-1.
Liberia take on DRC in Monrovia as Zimbabwe will be in battle in Brazzaville.
The Congo and Liberia sit at the bottom of the log.
Giant goalkeeper George Chigova’s imposing figure might be the most probable shot stopper on Sunday.
His current form and experience in the national team set-up makes him a favourite to stand between the posts in Brazzaville.
In central defence, Chidzambwa is likely to employ a more defensive formation as Zimbabwe plays away.
‘Mhofu’, as Chidzambwa is affectionately known, is a former defender in his heyday and builds his team on a solid rear guard.
Kelvin Moyo, Teenage Hadebe, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Divine Lunga and Eric Chipeta are some of the defenders available for selection.
Chipeta is likely to earn a central defence role.
He is likely to be partnered by Hadebe in the absence of Costa Nhamoinesu who is nursing an injury.
The former Hwange right back can comfortably play in the central defence.
In previous Warriors matches, Chipeta partnered Nhamoinesu to form a rock-solid defence.
Hadebe’s composure and good tackling ability makes him the better candidate for the central defence role.
The former Highlanders centre-back has been in the trenches for the national team on several occasions and has played well.
Pfumbidzai is likely to play on the left flank, a position he played before in the national team and at his former club CAPS United.
Danny ‘Deco’ Phiri might be the anchor man to further buttress the rear guard.
The former Chicken Inn hard-man will play a pivotal role in linking the defence and midfield.
There are other pearls like Liberty Chakoroma and Tafadzwa Kutinyu who can play well in the middle-of-the-park.
Talent Chawapiwa, Kuda Mahachi and Khama Billiat – if he passes the late fitness test – can play as wingers, providing pace to the game.
Chidzambwa may opt to use Chawapiwa and Mahachi, then introduce Billiat as an impact substitute.
For goals, Zimbabwe are likely to rely on skipper Knowledge Musona who has delivered goals for the national team in most outings.
Musona, who is next to Peter Ndlovu’s 38 goals tally in the national team, has scored just above 20 for the Warriors.
The Anderlecht forward is likely to surpass Ndlovu’s record if he continues to be on fire.
Knox Mutizwa, who is enjoying his game in the South African premier league is available for selection together with gangly Nyasha Mushekwi.
Mushekwi’s stature will match the Central Africans pound-for-pound while his top form in the Chinese league makes him the best marksman.
The former CAPS United forward scored seven goals in 10 matches.
The high scoring rate Mushekwi is enjoying will be beneficial to the warriors who are looking for a fourth appearance at the AFCON.
Cameroon host the 2019 AFCON in June 2019.
Meanwhile, the Mighty Warriors go into battle this Wednesday at the COSAFA Women’s Championship. Zimbabwe finished runners-up in the last edition of the regional tournament, with South Africa clinching the title.
A total of 12 countries will be battling for the championship, with Uganda and Cameroon appearing as guests.
The Mighty Warriors play their first Group C match with Namibia on September 13 before taking on Swaziland the next day.
The Mighty Warriors wind up Group C action on September 17 against Uganda.
Zimbabwe’s provisional squad, named by Sithethelelwe ‘Kwinji 15’ Sibanda, is a blend of seasoned players and novices.
Players like Chido Dzingirai, Danai Bhobho, Emmaculate Msipa, Felistas Muzangondi, Erina Jeke and Marjory Nyaumwe are some of the experience in the Mighty Warriors team.

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