By Tedious Manyepo
Former Warriors coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa says Zimbabwe should use their underdog tag to their advantage when they tackle Africa’s heavyweights in their 2017 Nations Cup battles in Gabon.
Callisto Pasuwa and his men will kick start their AFCON campaign against Algeria on January 15 at Stade de Franceville.
According to the FIFA Coca-Cola rankings released yesterday, Zimbabwe moved three places up the world ladder to 110 and are now ranked 31st in Africa.
“Zimbabwe, just like other countries who made it to Gabon, are a good team,” said Chidzambwa.
“They play fantastic football and that is the reason why they managed to qualify for the AFCON.
“They might be the least-ranked team in their group, but they can use all those factors to their advantage. This is Zimbabwe’s third appearance at the jamboree and I think we have now come of age. The underdog tag can now actually be used as a tool to try and play football without exerting pressure on yourselves.
“The first game against Algeria should be won at all costs and that way, we will gain a lot of confidence and every team will start respecting us.
“That is very possible considering that football has changed over the years. There are no longer small teams in modern day soccer.”
Zimbabwe will play Senegal on the 19th of January before completing their group games against Tunisia on the 23rd.
ZIFA vice-president, Omega Sibanda, said this was an “exciting group” and the Warriors should make an impression in Gabon.
“All the teams in Gabon are in Groups of Death because there are only 16 teams at the AFCON and we are one of them and there was no way we could have expected easier opposition,” said Sibanda.
“Ours is an exciting group and we have a group of players who have shown throughout the qualifiers that they can play against any side on the continent and we believe in them that, come the finals, they will rise to the occasion.
“We should not look down on ourselves, but we should take this as an inspiration for us to do very well and we are confident, as ZIFA, that our boys will rise to the occasion.
“What is needed right now is for us to work as a team, as a united nation, because this is not about Philip Chiyangwa, but the country called Zimbabwe and resources should be pooled from everywhere to ensure that we are in our best possible shape to take on the opposition.”
Sibanda said they will unveil the master plan for the Warriors’ preparations soon and the Mighty Warriors should get their preparations underway from next week.
“This is not a ZIFA thing, but a national issue and if we are united as a nation we can conquer,” said Sibanda.
“We have done very well to qualify, as the only country from Southern Africa and we should go there and represent not only ourselves, but our region with pride.
“The so-called giants don’t know the quality that we have and are likely to be surprised that we have such good players and we earned our right to be there and we should not be pushed into thinking that we are inferior to any team.
“We are as good as any of the countries that are there and we are excited as ZIFA because this group can bring the best out of our team.” The Herald