MUTARE-BORN Warriors left-back, Onismor Bhasera says he is ready to play his part and help Zimbabwe overcome South Africa in today (Friday)’s eagerly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup Group G qualifier.
The Warriors and Bafana Bafana square off in a contest that promises fireworks, with a lot at stake.
Not only are three points on offer, but the bragging rights as well, as the duel assumes the form of a local derby each time the neighbours slug it out.
Matches between Zimbabwe and South Africa have traditionally been dubbed the Battle of Limpopo.
This is the first of such games at this level of the competition in the past 20 years.
That Bhasera will be facing some of the players he has played alongside or against in the South African domestic football league makes it an intriguing battle.
He has spent virtually the entirety of his professional career plying his trade in the Super Diski Premiership, save for a brief stint with Plymouth Argyle in England.
And the Sakubva-bred star has declared that he is up for it.
“It will be interesting to come up against some familiar faces when we play South Africa. I know a thing or two about some of them. Besides, I have played in their local league for a lengthy period, long enough to know them and make me feel at home facing those players.
“To me this is like a derby owing to that familiarisation. This is an exciting challenge and I am geared for it. Naturally, derbies are electrifying to participate in them, for there is always a lot at stake. My desire is to help my country win this match and set us up on the road to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup,” said the seasoned left-footed defender.
He added that he is itching to step up to the plate and put one over their fierce rivals.
Winning the match, he added, will be a precious football gift to Zimbabwean fans who are unable to fill the giant venue and root for the team, but will be keenly following the match.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) turned down ZIFA’s request to have supporters back in the stadium, citing Covid-19 protocols.
Among the familiar faces the ex-Chiefs player will come up against are his current SuperSport United teammates, Ronwen Williams, Sipho Mbule and Teboho Mokoena.
The former has been handed the Bafana Bafana armband.
Bhasera said he deeply cherishes his involvement with the national team again, having been overlooked by incumbent Zdravko “Loga” Logarušic’s predecessors.
He had last featured for the Warriors in 2017.
He, however, made a triumphant return in March this year to help the team secure a ticket to next year’s AFCON finals.
Loga was impressed and hailed his commitment to national duty.
In an unflinching show of patriotism, the defender paid for his own flight to Botswana from his South Africa base for the tie against the Zebras. He was unsurprisingly retained for the next assignment against Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
Another Warrior in the same boat as Bhasera is fellow old hand, goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
A veteran of many battles, Arubi has called the South African league home since his switch from Dynamos to University of Pretoria in 2012.
The ex-soccer star of the year winner has since then turned out for nearly half-a-dozen other clubs there.
He was also recently conscripted into the Warriors side that took part at the COSAFA Cup, having last played for the team in 2015.
The hometown buddies, who are both La Sakubva juniors products, are expected to make the starting XI this afternoon; with Arubi in goals and Bhasera on the left side of defence.
Their experience is likely to come in handy doand spur the Warriors on.