Petros Kausiyo in POLOKWANE, South Africa
OVIDY Karuru set the Cosafa Cup alight last year and he returns to the tournament again tomorrow with a rallying call for his Warriors to be ruthless and professional in their approach.
The Warriors are favourites to defend their crown.
“We travelled well and did not face any challenges with the luxury bus that took us from Harare to the South African side of the border after which we then shifted onto the bus that had been sent by Cosafa,’’ said Karuru.
“In terms of team building and understanding each other we are fine now, what made the road trip shorter was that we cracked jokes along the way and we had smooth passage on both ends of the border.
“After spending some time together I think we know each other better now and the fitness levels are very high and we are ready to go. We are ready for anyone we will face.’’
The Warriors skipper felt they were better prepared for the Cosafa tournament than they were for the Four-Nation invitational tournament in Ndola, which included Angola, South Africa and the hosts.
“When we played Angola in Zambia, we didn’t have enough time to gel but still dominated them but just didn’t utilise our chances and we then lost on penalties.
“Against Botswana on Independence Day I did not play but I heard that we also created some good chances which we didn’t utilise and we got punished. At the moment it is not about personal records but the country. The country comes first and then the rest will follow. In fact, the records are for the statisticians to take care of. If the team wins the record is for Zimbabwe and my focus is on helping my teammates to achieve that. I am not even under pressure to score because my main job is to create the opportunities for the strikers.’’
With many teams in the region using this year’s tournament to prepare for the resumption of their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaigns in September, Karuru said the Warriors were bracing for stiffer competition in Polokwane.
“We have to be ready to play the best teams that are here because everyone is preparing for the Afcon and that is why our coach also called up some Afcon players. We need to make sure that we get it right from here. Of course, some of the players like Knowledge, Costa and Marvelous didn’t make it but it is an opportunity for the new guys to also prove themselves.
“We might have had a lot of changes from last year’s squad but we are not short of experience. We have guys like Tino Kadewere who is doing well in Europe, Khama who has played bigger stages than the Cosafa and Evans Rusike. We just have to be professional about it and make sure we make Zimbabwe proud again,’’ Karuru said.
The Warriors had their first major workout late afternoon while a group of Zimbabweans based in Polokwane, and led by businessman Laston Murerwa, organised a welcome dinner for them.