ZIMBABWE Under-23 football captain Wisdom Mutasa is soaring with confidence in the face of adversity and believes they can beat Cameroon in the first round, first leg tie of the All-Africa Games qualifier at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.
The Young Warriors have not had the best of preparations with several key players who had been called up failing to report for training on grounds the match is not on the Fifa calendar for international matches – leaving coach Kalisto Pasuwa with a severely depleted squad ahead of the crucial tie.
But Mutasa, installed skipper of the national team – to lead the Young Warriors against Cameroon his first assignment as captain – said they are “a team that stands and falls together”.
“I feel honoured to be given the armband to lead my country,” the 20-year-old said after yesterday morning’s training session at Chikurubi.
“It’s a huge responsibility and I will try not to put pressure on myself. We are going into the match with the objective of winning against all odds.
Some players we have been used to playing with will not be available on Sunday, but with this group of players I strongly believe we could represent our country and produce a good result.
“What is important is unity and we are a team that stands together and falls together. I have been playing in Africa for my club FC Platinum and have gained some experience. We were beaten 1-5 in Tanzania, but I think it was a good experience. We have learnt a lot from that defeat. If anything that defeat has given us strength and we can beat Cameroon on Sunday,” Mutasa said.
The Young Warriors camp has been hit by player withdrawals since they started preparations for the match with Pasuwa and his assistants Saul Chaminuka and Nation Dube being forced to work with a makeshift squad.
Pasuwa could be without a trusted forward after Highlanders requested for the release of rising striker Thomas Chideu for tomorrow’s match against ZPC Kariba.
Chideu trained with Young Warriors at Chikurubi yesterday alongside teammates Teenage Hadebe and Nqobizitha Masuku. Caps United were pushing for the release of left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai, one of the key players in camp ahead of the match against Cameroon.
Dynamos were requesting for the release of Blessing Moyo and Carlos Rusere, but Pasuwa said he would continue to engage the players’ respective clubs to allow him to use them for the Cameroon clash.
FC Platinum had four players called up – Walter Musona, Kelvin Moyo, Emmanuel Mandiranga and Mutasa, but their coach Norman Mapeza released Mutasa only to the national team.
Meanwhile, referees from South Africa will handle the match against Cameroon with Filipe Lucas Johane from Mozambique the match commissioner.
The man calling the shots would be Tinyiko Victor Hlungwani, while Thembisile Theophilus Windvoel and Sandile Dilikane will be the first and second assistants respectively. Kulasande Qongqo will come in as the fourth official.
Gate charges for the match have been pegged at $3 for the rest of ground, $5 for the upper grand stand and $10 for the VIP.