LEGEND Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda has warned the Warriors not to underrate Tanzania and try to win at all costs away on Sunday when Zimbabwe takes on the Taifa Stars in the first round, first leg of the 2015 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) Dar es Salaam.
The former Warriors midfielder who was part of the Warriors that qualified for the 2004 Tunisia and 2006 Egypt Afcon finals under Sunday Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri respectively, albeit losing out in the group stages, said the trick was to win in Tanzania and finish off the East Africans at home to book a place into the next round.
Should they sail past Tanzania, they will meet the winner between Mozambique and South Sudan and if they progress, they will join Group F, which has Zambia, Cape Verde and Niger for the last lap where two teams will qualify for the Morocco finals.
Zimbabwe made their debut appearance in the finals in 2004 and 2006 was their last.
The former Zimbabwe Saints, Dynamos and AmaZulu player, very instrumental in the national team then, said he believed in the squad that Warriors gaffer Ian Gorowa selected.
“It is these teams like Tanzania that we should not underrate. They can appear small, but can be very dangerous. We need to win away from home. A win will be the best result on Sunday and if we don’t we would rather play for a draw. But the most important thing is that we need to be very careful,” said Sibanda, who won 50 caps with the Warriors.
He said the players who took part in the African Nations Championships (Chan) in South Africa in January were impressive and they should now prove themselves in a bigger competition.
“I just wish the guys good luck. The boys are good. Some of them played very well in the Chan competition and now they must prove themselves playing in a bigger and better competition,” added Sibanda, who now coaches juniors in Bulawayo’s Lobengula suburb.
Another former Warrior Dazzy Kapenya reiterated Sibanda’s words saying the nation should rally behind the players that have been selected to represent the country.
“There are no small countries in Africa anymore. We should not go there and think that we will just walk over Tanzania. It might be a win or draw, but the best result is the result that will qualify us into the next stage.
“That is all we need and I think the players that have been selected know how important these qualifiers are. Playing away first is a blessing in disguise. We as a nation should rally behind the players that have been selected although everyone would have had their expectations,” said Kapenya, the former Highlanders skipper.
In the squad is lethal striker Tendai Ndoro, who made waves in the South African Absa Premier Soccer League (PSL) playing for Mpumalanga Black Aces after only three months, scoring seven goals in 13 matches.
Also in is Absa PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns’ Cuthbert Malajila and Kaizer Chiefs’ Willard Katsande.
Former How Mine striker Simba Sithole, who was part of the Warriors Chan squad that lost in the semi-finals to Libya in a penalty shootout, suffered an injury at training yesterday at Gateway High School.
Some of the players who were in the Chan squad include goalkeepers George Chigova and Munyaradzi Diya, defenders Hardlife Zvirekwi, Erick Chipeta, Partson Jaure, Milton Ncube, midfielders Danny “Deco” Phiri, Peter “Rio” Moyo and striker Kudakwashe Mahachi.
Also called up for the preparations are goalkeeper Washington Arubi who is at Pretoria University, Sidney Linyama, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Pascal Manhanga, Stephen Alimenda, Marshall Mudehwe and Talent Chawapiwa.
Nqobizitha Masuku has been ruled out due to injury.