Ronald Chitiyo

Ronald Chitiyo

Petros Kausiyo in RUSTENBURG, South Africa
AFTER getting their COSAFA Cup campaign off the mark with a win over Mauritius, Zimbabwe return to battle for a date against Seychelles at Moruleng Stadium here today seeking another victory to consolidate their place at the top of the Group A standings. Zimbabwe’s clash against Seychelles at 5pm will be the first of another Group A double-header programme with Namibia taking on Mauritius in the second encounter at the same venue at 7.30pm.

The Warriors overcame Mauritius 2-0 to take a giant step towards a quarter-final berth where defending champions Zambia will be waiting in ambush.

The preliminary round business is the price the teams in the group pay for being lowly ranked on the FIFA rankings and means Saul Chaminuka’s men have to clear the hurdles posed by Seychelles today, and Namibia on May 21, to join the big boys club in the last eight.

Chaminuka revealed he was going to retain basically the same team that started against Mauritius.

The coach wants the Warriors, who have just two South African-based professionals — goalkeeper George Chigova and defender Partson Jaure — to maintain the momentum they showed against Mauritius. “Seychelles are a very organised team in terms of the kind of game they played against Namibia,” said Chaminuka.

“Namibia did all they could but they could not breach them, so I think they did a good job to fight for a point.

“I think Seychelles worked on how to defend and only went forward once they won the ball.”

The former ZPC Kariba gaffer has plan of breaking down the Indian Ocean islanders whose only COSAFA Cup victory remains their 7-0 thrashing of Mauritius in the 2007 competition. Chaminuka said he was planning to use the flanks to carve open the Seychelles defence that was so stubborn against Namibia.

“We have to play a much faster game and try to use our wingers more to get behind them with crosses.

“Of course, we will also attack through the middle in order to vary our game but definitely we are going to go at them right from the start.

“I would want another 2-0 win or even better and we should score early to ensure we do not overwork ourselves because we have another important game against Namibia which is another must-win match.

“We are looking for consolidation of our position at the top so that there is less pressure on us going into the final group games.

“There have been suggestions that the real tournament starts in the quarter-finals but I don’t think so. I think the preliminaries give you an opportunity to pick up and you can be on a roll by the time you reach the quarter-finals. “But because we also want to maintain our rhythm I don’t think we are going to change the team that started because we also want to polish on our grey areas.’’

One of the major weaknesses in the Warriors was their failure to turn their dominance into more goals.

“We created so many chances, yes, but we were hitting the ball against the wall so to speak and instead of passing to a better-placed man we tended to hit the ball straight at the goalkeeper or a defender.

“We also need to increase our presence in the box whenever we attack and capitalise on the second ball but I think we will come good.”

Chaminuka said he had also noted that the COSAFA Cup tournament attracts some scouts, especially from South African Premiership clubs, but warned his players against exerting undue pressure on themselves.

“There are some basic things that scouts will be looking for like a player’s intelligence, tactical discipline and awareness and we are saying to them just focus and play your normal game and pass when you have to pass so they do not have to put themselves under pressure to impress.’’

Skipper Danny Phiri, back in the South African fields where he had a fine CHAN tournament with the Warriors last year, said it was important for his troops to treat all their group opponents with respect.

“We did well to beat Mauritius but that is just the start of the job. We still have a long way to go and we need to keep improving because it will get tougher as the tournament progresses and we want to go all the way to the final,’’ said Phiri.

With CAPS United skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi and the SuperSport United pair of Jaure and Chigova also offering experience and good command on the pitch, gritty midfielder Phiri is not short of fellow leaders. Dynamos talisman, Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo, was outstanding in the first game against Mauritius.