By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Former Warriors’ captain Ephraim Chawanda believes Zimbabwe can do well in the Total Africa Cup of Nations finals if Zifa ensures proper preparations for the tournament.
The Warriors were drawn in Group A alongside hosts Egypt, two-time winners DR Congo and Uganda in a four-team group in which the top two sides will automatically progress to the quarter-finals of the expanded 24-team tournament.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa’s men kick-off the tournament against the Pharoahs on June 21 at the Cairo Stadium in a repeat of Zimbabwe’s first match at the continent’s premier football showcase in Tunisia 15 years ago.
The Warriors were the first team to be picked at the draw conducted on Friday last week.
They took four points from DRC, beating them 2-1 in Kinshasa before the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw at the National Sports Stadium where Knox Mutizwa’s goal was controversially disallowed by Egyptian match officials.
At the end of the qualifiers, the Warriors found themselves enjoying a two-point cushion at the top of their group.
Speaking from his base in Botswana, the former Zimbabwe Saints defence stalwart and 1988 Soccer Star of the Year said the nation’s chances at the finals rest purely at its own doors.
“We can make it through as long as we don’t become our own Achilles heel by not meeting necessary and adequate demands for such a tournament,” said Chawanda.
He said all necessary resources must be put together as early as possible so that the players and technical staff don’t have anything to distract them, but instead concentrate fully on the tournament proper; adding that top of the list must be the players’ welfare.
“Its mostly about resources; they should be in place by now, travel arrangements and player incentives are always at the top of the list,” said Chawanda, who led the national team in the early 90s and at one time knocked the mighty Egyptians out of the 1994 World Cup finals in sensational fashion after their qualifier was taken to Lyon, France, following an order by Fifa for a replay.
The replay was ordered after Egyptian fans pelted the Zimbabwean bench and players with stones.
Warriors coach, the late Reinhard Fabisch, was seriously injured on the head and required treatment, while goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was hit on the back of the head.
The referee and match commissioner’s reports were damning and the match, which Egypt had won 2-1 in Cairo, was nullified. The Warriors then held the Pharoahs to a goalless draw in France to advance to the next stage of qualifiers. The Chronicle