COSAFA CUP: Warriors ready for Cosafa

Jaure

Jaure

\n

From Petros Kausiyo in RUSTENBURG, South Africa

\n

ZIMBABWE assistant coach Saul Chaminuka wants the Warriors to put behind their shambolic preparations and get their campaign off to a winning start when they face Mauritius in a COSAFA Cup Group A encounter at Moruleng Stadium this afternoon.

\n

The match, the second on the opening day double header programme at the tournament, will kick off at 5.30pm.

\n

Chaminuka has been thrust into the hot seat to stand in for Warriors coach Kallisto Pasuwa, who stayed at home to take charge of the national Under-23 squad as Zimbabwe seek to keep their 2016 Olympic Games dream alive with possible victories over Swaziland and South Africa in the second and third round of the qualifiers.

\n

Reigning Premiership Coach of the Year Chaminuka, who flew into South Africa with the Warriors on Friday said it was imperative that they overcome the Indian Ocean islanders.

\n

Chaminuka said although they had encountered problems with their preparations in which training was characterised by apathy of players and lack of resources, they were determined to make the most of their time in the Group A assignments by winning their games against Mauritius, Seychelles and Namibia.

\n

The former ZPC Kariba coach also reckoned that “Zimbabweans have resilience where we still manage to do well even in difficult times and that is the spirit that we have in camp’’.

\n

“We had our problems to get the team into camp but nevertheless we are here and we are going to do something.

\n

“We have the players who can do a good job for Zimbabwe . . . we are not underrating any team but I think we will give it our best because we intend to take the cup back home.

\n

“There is something about us Zimbabweans, we still manage to do well when we are cornered with problems. I think it is something to do with our resilience and we just have to show our resilience and forget about any challenges we had,’’ Chaminuka said.

\n

Chaminuka also underlined the significance of having some experienced players including those who featured for the Warriors in their last COSAFA Cup campaign in Ndola, Zambia in 2013 where Zimbabwe, then under the guidance of Klaus Dieter Pagels, finished runners-up to the hosts.

\n

Some of the survivors of that tournament include Dynamos’ talismanic midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, who was drafted late after the Harare giants had initially declined to release him.

\n

Former Dynamos goalkeeper George Chigova may have seen less action at SuperSport United in the South African Premiership but Chaminuka said his experience in the international game was vital to this crop of Warriors.

\n

Chigova was one of the stand out players as the Warriors finished fourth at the 2014 CHAN tournament in Cape Town before securing a move to SuperSport.

\n

Partson Jaure, who also had a good CHAN tournament was also a late inclusion in the squad but the former Dynamos defender looks set to miss today’s opening game after a communication breakdown between ZIFA and the player saw him travelling to Harare on the same day that the Warriors left for Rustenburg.

\n

ZIFA Communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said that they had managed to make new travel arrangements to enable Jaure to fly in last night.

\n

Chaminuka also pointed to the presence of some “exciting young players in the team who are ready to make their mark in this COSAFA Cup’’.

\n

“We have guys like Chitiyo, who was at the 2013 edition.

\n

“We also have guys like Talent Chawapihwa, Marshal Mudehwe and Evans Rusike, who are doing well in our league so we would be able to hold our own,” he said.

\n

Gritty Chicken Inn midfielder Danny Phiri is also around and should create the first line of the defensive shield in front of Chigova as the Warriors seek to deflate Club M’s enthusiasm.

\n

“George is an experienced goalkeeper who was around in 2013 and played in the CHAN and we will need his experience and I think with the team behind him, we will see a lot from him,’’ Chaminuka said.

\n

Mauritius have a knack of causing surprises in this tournament but their new coach Didier Six said he had brought with him a young squad that is looking to use the COSAFA Cup as yet another learning curve.

\n

“We respect Zimbabwe and we know that it is a tough team but we will take it match by match. I took over the job six months ago and we have improved many things and we want to see how well we can do. We have played three matches since I took over.

\n

“I don’t have one star player but the stars can only come from the team that I am building after they have played a lot of football,’’ Six, a former French international winger, said.