The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
DESPITE taking a healthy 4-0 aggregate lead into today’s first round second leg 2020 African Nations Championships (Chan) qualifier against Mauritius, Warriors interim head coach, Rahman Gumbo’s charges will go for the kill at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
The Warriors look all but set to proceed to the second round and today’s match seems like a routine game but Gumbo said they will not give Mauritius a chance to raise their hopes. Speaking during the team’s morning training session at Barbourfields yesterday, Gumbo said they are taking it as a new game and will not be focusing on the goals they scored at the Auguste Vollaire Stadium in Flacq. Goals from Nqobizitha Masuku, Never Tigere and a brace by Leeroy Mavhunga gave Zimbabwe victory over the island nation last week.
“We are taking it like a new game and we are not thinking about the 4-0 lead that we have. What we need is to kill the game as a contest in the early stages of the match by getting an early goal and dampen their spirits. We want to make them feel like the game is over a few minutes into the match and we have to really show it on the pitch,” he said.
Gumbo said he was impressed with the way his charges were applying themselves at training as they are not showing any signs of complacency but a hunger to make it into the final squad. He said having first timers and those who are not regulars in the national team has brought out the hunger in players as they want to impress and find a permanent place in the Warriors.
“The good part is that we are working with new players who are trying to make a name for themselves and trying to get into the national team set up permanently so they are putting in all their efforts. We actually told them this will be a good chance to not only play for the national team but also make themselves noticed by scouts out there. You never know who is watching, it could be the breakthrough one player needs to move abroad,” said Gumbo.
With all the 18 players that travelled to Mauritius given a clean bill of health, very few changes are likely to be made to the starting line-up that did duty last week. Gumbo, however, said they are likely to make one or two changes to the starting eleven that played in the first leg. The national team coach urged local football fans to come into Barbourfields in their droves to cheer the Warriors to victory.
“Bulawayo football fans should come in numbers to back the Warriors tomorrow and hopefully they can make an impression to Zifa that they are also hungry for such games and convince them that the national team should not play in Harare only but should be taken to other venues across the country. We have adequate facilities in other towns such as Barbourfields, Mandava and others where the national team can play,” he said.
An aggregate win for the Warriors will see them take on either South Africa or Lesotho in the second round final qualifier scheduled for September for the tournament set to be held in Cameroon next year. Zifa communications and competitions manager, Xolisani Gwesela also appealed to the fans to show their love for the national team by turning up in their numbers at Barbourfields today.
“We appeal to all residents in Bulawayo, surrounding areas and the nation at large to throng BF tomorrow (today) for the Chan return leg against Mauritius. The boys did extremely well in the first leg and we are very confident and optimistic they are going to finish the job here and qualify for the second round hence we need football lovers to come out in their numbers and support the boys.
Gate charges are pegged at $10 rest of the ground, $20 wings and $50 VIP. Fans should create a victorious atmosphere at BF and as Zifa we are committed to spreading the game all over the country and we are going to see more international matches coming to Bulawayo,” he said.