from AKANI CHAUKE in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ON paper, Zimbabwe will be the underdogs in the 2022 Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) qualifier against neighbouring South Africa.
However, national pride will be at stake and the fact that the Warriors are using the remaining matches to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in January in Cameroon will make them tricky opponents for Bafana Bafana on Thursday (today).
It will be top-versus-bottom of Group G when the old rivals clash at the FNB Stadium.
Interim Zimbabwe coach, Norman Mapeza, conceded the Warriors must regain lost pride following a hugely disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign under the tutelage of Croat coach Zdravko Logarusic.
“We have a battered image presently,” Mapeza said.
“We thus have to win the game and get a result to restore our pride,” he added.
The former national team captain said Zimbabwe did not perform according to their standards because the local league had been inactive for a lengthy period because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The impact of the scourge across the globe also made it difficult for Zimbabwe to secure some foreign-based players for the qualifiers.
Despite these setbacks that have left them bottom of the group behind the hosts, Ghana and Ethiopia, Mapeza urged his troops to raise their game against Bafana Bafana.
In the absence of captain Knowlegde Musona, Mapeza’s trump cards will be centred around Aston Villa industrious midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, Kaizer Chiefs forward, Khama Billiat, who is stand-in skipper.
Mamelodi Sundowns leftback Divine Lunga and British’s Plymouth defender Brendan Galloway are also tipped to turn the match in Zimbabwe’s favour.
Mapeza revealed he could throw into the deep end exciting youngsters comprising Germany-based Jonah Fabisch and Bill Antonio of local powerhouse, Dynamos.
They are tipped for their first caps as preparations for the AFCON gather pace.
Ghana and Ethiopia will contest the other penultimate Group G fixture.
– CAJ News