Zim’s AFCON mission continues

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ZIMBABWE’s dream of making a fourth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations continues when they host Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) next week in Harare.
The Warriors, who lead the Group G log standings, play in a top of-the-table match against DRC.
The two sides have one win and one draw totaling four points. Zimbabwe have a superior goal difference.
The Warriors have scored four goals and conceded one while DRC have scored an equal number of goals and let two goals into their nets.
The Group G encounter between the two is expected to draw more attention as it will decide who leads the pack. Interestingly, the two sides meet back-to-back within a week in a reverse fixture.
What is worrisome is Zimbabwe’s head-to-head record against the DRC.
In most encounters the two have played, Zimbabwe was on the back foot.
Even in the African clubs competitions, the Champions League and Confederation Cup, clubs from DRC have always given Zimbabwean clubs a torrid time.
TP Mazembe and AS Vita have been victorious against Zimbabwean clubs.
CAPS United recently won a Champions League two-legged match in 2016 to eliminate the Lubumbashi-based side TP Mazembe in one of the memorable encounters against a DRC team.
With that history against Zimbabwe, Warriors gaffer Sunday Chidzambwa named a strong 23-member squad for the two matches.
The first match will be played in Harare on October 13 before the reverse fixture on October 16.
In the last match, the Warriors were held to a 1-all draw by Congo in Brazzaville.
After taking an early lead, Zimbabwe failed to defend their goal.
Zimbabwe might live to rue the lead they fluffed which could have seen them two points clear at the top of the log. However, the Warriors need to, at least, win the next fixture and draw the away match in the DRC.
Collecting four points from the two fixtures will be good for Zimbabwe’s dream of making a fourth appearance at the biennial soccer tournament.
It has always been prestigious for Zimbabwe to feature at the continental soccer showpiece.
However, the Warriors have not progressed past the group stages.
From their log position, the national team can qualify if they outpace the DRC who are a potential threat in the group.
The 23-man squad includes UK-based defender Tendayi Darikwa who now has a Zimbabwean passport, Alec Mudimu of CEFN Druids AFC and Marvellous Nakamba who missed the last fixture nursing an injury.
Costa Nhamoinesu was not drafted into the squad and missed the last encounter due to an injury.
The dreadlocked centre-back could have been a vital member of the defence if he was available for selection.
Chidzambwa, a former defender in his playing days, builds his team on a strong defence.
His playing formations have always been defensive.
Pundits have always criticised Chidzambwa’s playing formation as too defensive but facing the DRC who have named a strong squad for the two matches, the former Zimbabwe international needs to play cautiously.
Chidzambwa may opt to have two defensive linkmen backed by four defenders in the rear to ensure they control the game.
DRC have named a strong team for the two fixtures as they target Zimbabwe’s scalp.
Yannick Bolasie, Aston Villa forward is part of the team expected to play Zimbabwe in the coming fixture together with China-based Cedric Bakambu and Arthur Masuaku who plays for West Ham.
The trio are some of the players Zimbabwe need to be wary of.
Zimbabwe needs to harness all its players in the top leagues so as to match the standard of play by some of its opponents.
Warriors squad
Goalkeepers
1. George Chigova – Polokwane City
2. Donovan Benard – Ngezi Platinum Stars
3. Edmore Sibanda – Witbank Spurs
Defenders
4. Divine Xolile Lunga – Lamontville Golden Arrows
5. Tendayi David Darikwa – Nottingham Forest
6. Alec Takunda Mudimu – CEFN Druids AFC
7. Tapiwa Ronald Pfumbidzai – Bloemfontein Celtic
8. Teenage Lingani Hadebe – Kaizer Chiefs
9. Kevin Njabulo Moyo – FC Platinum
10. Eric Chipeta – Cape Umoya United
11. Byron Madzokere – Yadah Stars
Midfielders
12. Marshal Nyasha Munetsi – Orlando Pirates
13. Tafadzwa Raphael Kutinyu – Azam
14. Danny Phiri – Lamontville Golden Arrows
15. Richard Hachiro – Herentals
16. Leeroy Mavunga – Yadah Stars
17. Ovidy Karuru – Amazulu
18. Marvelous Nakamba – Club Brugge KV
Strikers
19. Khama Billiat – Kaizer Chiefs
20. Talent Chawapihwa – Baroka
21. Knowledge Musona – RSC Anderlecht
22. Evans Rusike – SuperSport United
23. Knox Mutizwa – Lamontville Golden Arrows

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