Moffat Mungazi Sports Correspondents
FORMER Young Warriors captain Liberty Chakoroma is confident the senior men’s soccer team have what it takes to grind out a positive result to secure them a berth at the Total-sponsored 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals when they wrap up the qualifiers this weekend.
Zimbabwe are home to Congo Brazzaville this Sunday where victory will preserve their lead at the top of Group G, while a draw can still be good enough to see them through.
With the Warriors firmly in the frame to clinch one of two slots in their pool for a ticket to Egypt, Chakoroma has tipped coach Sunday Chidzambwa and his charges to complete the job at hand.
“Our chances look realistically bright and the good thing is that we remain in control of our own destiny. We have done relatively well in this group that we have got most of the work right and all that remains is to accomplish our qualification quest. I have faith in the coaches and the squad that they can pull this one off. This is achievable; let us end our campaign fruitfully as masters of our fate,” the Sakubva-born star, who was part of the triumphant and record-extending Warriors cast under Chidzambwa at the 2017 Cosafa Cup staged in South Africa, told Post Sport this week.
The ex-Buffaloes defender, however, cautioned against complacency; warning that Congo Brazzaville can still play party spoilers. While an outright victory or at least a draw will take the Warriors there, defeat for the hosts may deal them a fatal blow as they will have to heavily rely on results elsewhere in the other fixture between Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
Group G is still wide open but very tight, with Zimbabwe top of the pile on eight points from five games and trailed by Liberia (7) in second position while DRC (6) and Congo(5) sit third and fourth respectively.
Chakoroma rallied the Warriors to drag themselves over the finishing line before their own faithful.
“Congo Brazzaville still have everything to fight for in this group and we cannot afford to underrate them as that may come with perilous consequences. With the top two teams qualifying from each group, all the opponents in our pool still have a chance although we stand in good stead given the standings. It is important that we avoid putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves since failing to get a positive result in this game will complicate our campaign and push us in a tight corner.
“If I had it my way, it would be imperative that we pick up all three points this Sunday and finish with a flourish to avoid having to glance at permutations or other results in order to help our cause. We have to present our home crowd with the perfect gift at National Sports this Sunday,” reasoned the Ngezi Platinum Stars skipper and 2016 Soccer Star of Year finalist.
Come June, Chakoroma is convinced Zimbabwe will be among the continent’s finest teams making the grade for the biennial soccer showpiece for the fourth time in the country’s history. The Warriors have previously played at the 2004 (Tunisia), 2006 (Egypt) and 2017 (Gabon) Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Egypt will host the 32th edition of the tournament, which will feature an expanded 24 teams instead of the traditional 16 following changes to the competition.