Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe senior men’s soccer team players, Zenzo Moyo and Ronald Sibanda believe the Warriors are capable of upsetting Ghana at their own backyard in a 2022 World Cup Qualifier to be played this afternoon.
With just a point, hard-pressed to revive their hopes of qualifying to the next stage, the Warriors will be out to avoid a defeat to stay in contention.
Zimbabwe are the only winless team, sitting at the bottom of Group G having played to a 0-0 draw with South Africa before losing 1-0 in Ethiopia.
South Africa top the table with four points, while Ghana and Ethiopia are tied on three points.
Ghana opened their campaign with a slender 1-0 home win against Ethiopia, before losing by a similar score line to South Africa.
Zimbabwe and Ghana head into today’s encounter with new coaches, Mapeza and Serbian Milovan Rajevac keen on starting their jobs on a positive note.
Sibanda said a positive attitude by the Warriors will count in their favour.
He challenged Warriors players to justify their inclusion in the national team by giving their best performances.
“If going to teams like Ghana or any big teams, it’s difficult but we’re a team that is building with a new coach and these are matches where we have to rise to the occasion. Now these players have to prove to the coach why they are in the team and have to make us happy as a nation. If they fail to perform, then there’s no reason to keep these permanent faces, we’ve to let them go and we look at other players,” said Sibanda.
He thinks that Mapeza has spent lots of time working on the players’ psychology, trying to change their mindset and motivate them to take Ghana head on.
Moyo said the Warriors should take a leaf from Central Africa Republic who stunned Nigeria 1-0 away on Thursday.
The former Soccer Star of the Year said the Warriors must not be shaken by the fact that most of Ghana’s players ply their trade overseas.
“That Ghana has lots of players from abroad shouldn’t send shivers to Warriors. I remember one qualifier against Mali, there were guys like Diara but Johannes Ngodzo seemed like a foreign based player taking all the limelight. Football has changed and home advantage matters little.
“If we can’t win this one, a draw will be a fair result, depending on the team’s performance. I will be content with a point,” Moyo said.
Arsenal’s Thomas Partey who missed the games against Ethiopia and South Africa returns after recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of action for the opening stages of the new season, Ajax Amsterdam star Mohammed Kudus, Fiorentina’s Joseph Alfred Duncan, Turkey based forward Benjamin Tetteh, the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan are some of the international stars in Ghana.
The ex-Bosso gunman wants midfielders to create real scoring opportunities for the strikers.
Skipper Knowledge Musona, Knox Mtizwa who went for duty having become Golden Arrows’ all-time goal scorer and Terrence Dzukamanja are the strikers at Mapeza’s disposal.
“I think we’ve to fix the problem with the creative side. My analysis, I think we’ve few creative players and I ask myself, when was the last to see a national team striker missing a one-on-one chance after being set through by a midfielder?” asked Moyo.
The majority of Warriors midfielders are defensive, with Khama Billiat, Kuda Mahachi and Perfect Chikwende being creative players. The defence-minded midfielders are Blessing Sarupinda, Farai Madhanaga, Kelvin Madzongwe, Marshall Munetsi, Never Tigere, Marvelous Nakamba and Thabani Kamusoko.
Moyo questioned if Mapeza’s assistants Mandla Mpofu and Tawurayi Mangwiro were only “yes men” as they failed to drag along players from their teams.
“Sometimes in the national team you need locally based players who tend to be hungrier than your foreign based players. I’ve no doubt that Mapeza will change things since he’s been with the national team and played football at the highest level, but I ask myself, why didn’t his assistants vouch for players from their sides? Does it mean there are no other local players who could have been drafted in? Hopefully I’m wrong, but we need assistant coaches who will add value instead of being yes men,” said Moyo.