Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
PLAYERS that did not feature in the Warriors’ Afcon finals defeats against Senegal and Malawi are set to start in today’s dead rubber encounter in the final Group B game against Guinea.
The Warriors lost 0-1 to Senegal and 1-2 to Malawi, leaving them at the bottom of Group B table without a point.
The present class of Warriors risk being the worst side to have represented Zimbabwe at the finals should they lose to Guinea and return home without a point.
At their maiden Afcon appearance in Tunisia in 2004, Zimbabwe finished the group stages with three points collected from a 2-1 win over Algeria in their last game. Adam Ndlovu and Joel Luphahla scored for Zimbabwe.
At the 2006 edition held in Egypt, they ended the competition with three points from a 2-1 win over Ghana in the last group game, with goals coming from Benjani Mwaruwari and an own goal by Ahmed.
The Warriors finished with one point at the 2017 and 2019 editions held in Gabon and Egypt. In Gabon, they drew 2-2 against Algeria, with Nyasha Mushekwi and Kuda Mahachi finding the back of the net, while in Egypt they drew 1-1 with Uganda, courtesy of a Khama Billiat strike.
Now they might bow out of the tournament pointless if they go down to Guinea, who are tied on four points with Senegal.
Just like in the opening match of the tournament when they faced Senegal with nothing to lose, the Warriors will be less under pressure, as Guinea need a draw or win to make it to the next stage of the competition.
Warriors’ coach Norman Mapeza said he will tinker with his starting XI and give players that didn’t play in the last two outings the nod.
Goalkeeper Petros Mhari started both encounters and looks set to be benched, with either Talbert Shumba or Martin Mapisa thrown into the fray.
The defending trio of Peter Muduhwa, Alec Mudimu and Godknows Murwira haven’t had a dance and if they start, they’re likely to give their best as they try to market themselves to scouts.
Midfielders Thabani Kamusoko, Mahachi and Never Tigere, who made appearances from the bench alongside striker Admiral Muskwe and defender Jordan Zemura, could all get a run.
Striker David Moyo, the only forward who hasn’t been involved in any game as Mapeza preferred skipper Knowledge Musona, Tino Kadewere, Prince Dube and Muskwe is also primed to start.
“With the tournament over for us, we’ll give the other guys a run. Though we’re out, we’re treating the game with the same attitude we had in the games against Senegal and Malawi. We want to win and we’ll fight for that,” said Mapeza. — @ZililoR