By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE will targeting a winning start to their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification campaign when they face off with Botswana in their opening Group H match at the National Sports Stadium on Friday.
The match will kick-off at 1800 hours (Zimbabwe-time)
The Warriors head into the new campaign looking to qualify for their third successive AFCON finals and fifth overall after competing in the 2019 tournament hosted by Egypt.
Buoyed by the availability of several star studded players such as Aston Villa midfielder Marvellous Nakamba and inform South Africa-based forward Khama Billiat, the Warriors will start the match as favourites.
The Warriors also welcome back their captain Knowledge Musona while the likes of France-based midfielder Marshall Munetsi and defender Teenage Hadebe are expected to play an important role for the hosts.
Despite his team’s favourites tag, Joey Antipas, the Warriors interim coach, admitted that he is wary of the threat posed by the Zebras of Botswana.
“Botswana are tough opponents. We have played them on a number of occasions,” Antipas said.
“Although we won most of the encounters, they remain a real threat and we have to prepare thoroughly for the match.”
According to the Fifa website, Zimbabwe and Botswana have met 16 times in international matches with the Warriors recording nine wins compared to the Zebras’ four victories, while three games ended in a stalemate.
The Warriors will be aiming to maintain their good record against Botswana and get a positive start ahead of the second Group H qualification game against Zambia in Lusaka next Tuesday.
Botswana, made their only appearance in the AFCON finals at the 2012 tournament will be eager to turn the tables on the hosts by getting a positive result away from home.
The Zebras’ Algerian coach Adel Amrouche has included South Africa-based trio Lesenya Ramorak, Mosha Gaolalwe and Mogakolodi Ngele, who are influential players, in the squad.
Amrouche’s assistant, Letang Kgengwenyane says they are happy with the team’s fighting spirit having suffered a narrow defeat to Egypt in a friendly match last month.
“They now have a fighting spirit, we were using mostly new players, but they fought to contain their opponents,” Kgengwenyane was quoted in the Botswana media.
“Some of the things we touched on was the training methodology, diet, punctuality for training and to work as a team,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Simbarashe Chinani, Talbert Shumba
Defenders: Alec Mudimu, Cliff Moyo, Teenage Hadebe, Devine Lunga, Ian Nekati, Partson Jaure, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Kelvin Moyo.
Midfielders: Marvellous Nakamba, Marshall Munetsi, Ovidy Karuru, Butholwezi Ncube, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Terrence Dzukamanja, Thabani Kamusoko
Strikers: Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Knox Mtizwa, Prince Dube