ZIMBABWE senior men football squad begins a new chapter under coach, Norman Mapeza, who is mandated to put back on the rails a faltering campaign where they have picked just a single point from their first two matches.
The Black Stars of Ghana will host the first qualifier at the Cape Coast Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) before the two teams clash again in Harare three days later.
The Black Stars of Ghana have three points from their 1-0 win over Ethiopia, which was followed by a defeat to South Africa.
With Zimbabwe having fallen to the basement of the group, three points behind leaders, South Africa, the back-to-back tie against the Black Stars, a Herculean task as it is, the Warriors will have to swim through, and collect maximum points in the two ties against Ghana or else they sink.
While the Warriors would have drawn confidence, and comfort from the return of United Kingdom-based players, Jordan Zemura, Brendan Galloway, Marvelous Nakamba and Tendayi Darikwa as well as the United States-based Teenage Hadebe, who all missed the last two matches, the joy was short-lived as the UK-based stars will only be available for the away tie.
And those who believe in the Warriors brand are convinced that the national team can still grind a result from the two matches.
ZIFA board member, Sugar Chagonda, the architect of the popular move to sack clueless Croatian, Zdravko Logarusic, said: “There is no doubt that this is an important tie for our country. We are already in a disadvantaged position given the results that we got coming into this tie, but that does not mean it is impossible to emerge victorious.
“We would have loved to have all our players that the coach selected to be available for both matches. We will only have the UK-based stars for the away tie, and that is sad. It is unfortunate. However, we just cannot afford to mourn about it.”
Chagonda believes that being selected to be on the pitch against Ghana is enough motivation for any player.
“We just have to be positive, and believe that those players who will be selected by the coach can last the distance. They can rise to the occasion, and make the nation proud once again. In fact, it is their opportunity to showcase their talent, and that only is enough motivation even for a little known player,” he said.
Just like the Warriors, Ghana also have a new coach in Milovan Rajevac, who begins his second spell as the Black Stars coach.
And just like the Warriors, the Black Stars will also be missing a few of their influential stars.
Black Stars midfielder Alfred Duncan, was ruled out of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifiers double-header against Zimbabwe due to injury.
The 28-year old, who is on the ranks of Italian Serie A side, Fiorentina, will miss the crucial matches due to an injury sustained this past weekend.
Midfielder, Edmund Addo, who helped Moldovan club, Sheriff Tiraspol tame Real Madrid in the greatest upset in UEFA Champions League history, will also not face the Warriors after his club barred him from travelling to Africa, arguing that his country sent his request late.
Even as we understand the gulf in depth and class between the Warriors, and the star-studded Black Stars of Ghana, we just cannot stop singing Go Warriors Go!