Morale high…Warriors camp in SA Donovan Bernard

Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau

THE Warriors have set up camp in South Africa ahead of their 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa.

Zimbabwe will be the home team when playing against Lesotho at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday before taking on South Africa at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on June 11.

The decision to set up camp in South Africa was made by Zifa and most of the squad, including all players called up from Europe, have already arrived and are training at the High Performance Centre in Johannesburg, while the remaining players are expected later today. 

Italy-based utility, Jordan Zemura, was expected to arrive in South Africa yesterday, but after launching his foundation in Harare, his arrival was rescheduled for today.

Team manager Simba Gochera expressed optimism about the team’s preparation, commenting on their high morale and positive attitude. 

“All the foreign-based players are safely here. Those travelling from Harare (Geofrey Chitsumba, Godknows Murwira, Walter Musona, Tymon Machope and Martin Mapisa are expected later on (yesterday),” said Gochera.

“Those travelling from Bulawayo (Donovan Bernard and Andrew Mbeba) will also arrive at the same time as their Harare counterparts.

“Morale is very high and all the players are displaying positive attitudes, and this is a very good sign. They are in very high spirits and we are hoping to see a good week of preparation leading up to our match against Lesotho.

“It’s all looking sharp and we are optimistic that all will go according to plan as we have secured the training venue and everything else. We are thankful to the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Footballers Association for working hand-in-glove with the embassy and other Zimbabwe-owned South Africa-based companies like Zororo-Phumulani (who dressed fans that welcomed the players at OR Tambo International Airport) to see to it that we got an ideal welcome here.

“We are very grateful and this is a good sign which we also hope to see for the duration of our stay in South Africa,” he said.

Gochera, a former Sports and Recreation Commission employee, replaced Chicken Inn administrator Clement Matawu in the Warriors manager’s post last week.

Zifa defended its appointment of Gochera as the Warriors manager, stating that his role as competitions manager is intertwined with that of the Warriors manager, and that his experience made him the right choice for the job.

“When we appointed Matawu on a part-time basis last year, we didn’t have a competitions manager in place. The roles are basically the same, but with budgetary constraints we just decided that Gochera takes up the post without stretching the budget,” said a member of the Zifa Normalisation Committee.

“Gochera has vast experience in sport having been the deputy Chef de Mission for Team Zimbabwe in the 2022 African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games in Malawi. 

“We don’t doubt his capacity, which is why we took him in the first place. We are very happy with the development.”

Zimbabwe have two points from as many games having played a goalless draw against Rwanda and a 1-1 draw against Nigeria in Rwanda last year.


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