By Eddie Chikamhi
Warriors acting head coach, Rahman Gumbo, says Zimbabwe will carry on with their programme at the COSAFA tournament despite the absence of his boss Sunday Chidzambwa who rushed back home yesterday following the death of his father.
Gumbo is expected to take charge of the semi-final clash against Zambia in the second semi-final of the COSAFA Cup at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban tomorrow evening.
The Warriors started this year’s campaign with a 2-0 win over the Comoros and Gumbo yesterday said they need to carry on with the momentum.
“I think we just have to carry on with the way we have planned from the beginning,’’ he said.
“We sat down and planned for this tournament as part of our preparations for the AFCON. But we are taking this tournament seriously because we need to defend the title that we won last year.
“Zambia will always be our rivals in the Southern Region. They are our main opponents, especially looking at a situation where we have been rivals for a long time.
“I think it’s going to be tough game looking at the situation that they don’t want to lose against us and we also don’t want to lose against Zambia.’’
Zimbabwe have a squad of 30 players for the tournament and big changes are expected in the starting line-up tomorrow.
The Warriors beat Chipolopolo 4-2 in a dramatic comeback in last year’s final.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare said the Warriors were still focused despite the bereavement in their camp.
Chidzambwa will no longer take part in the regional tournament.
The coach is expected to take his AFCON squad to Nigeria on Thursday for the international friendly against the Super Eagles set for this Saturday, while the other group will be left behind for COSAFA business.
“It’s sad that Mhofu lost his father at such a crucial stage when we were preparing for the COSAFA semi-finals and the AFCON tournament as well.
“We would have wanted him to be there during the second game in the COSAFA because, obviously, this is going to be our last game for most of the players that are going to Egypt.
“Nevertheless, he prepared his team well for the next game against Zambia and it’s a game that he wanted (to rotate players).
“Obviously, that’s what he is going to do, there will be some changes because the idea is to give as many players the opportunity to play in the COSAFA tournament.
“So people should expect some changes upfront and midfield for the game against Zambia on Wednesday. Before Chidzambwa left he obviously talked to the assistant coaches on the changes that he wants for that game,” said Mpandare.
Nyasha Munetsi, Teenage Hadebe, Marvellous Nakamba and Kuda Mahachi trained with the team for the first time yesterday after joining camp on Sunday.
Forward Evans Rusike, who took a slight knock on the ribs in the match against Comoros, had a light jog.
Meanwhile, condolence messages continued to pour following the death of Mhofu’s father, Ezekiel, on Sunday.
“ZIFA extends its deepest condolences to our Senior Men coach, Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa who lost his father, Mr Ezekiel Chidzambga. The late Mr Chidzambga was 98 years old.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chidzambwa family in this painful period,” read the statement from ZIFA.
The Premier Soccer League also sent their condolence message in a brief message.
Former Warriors team manager Sharif Mussa, who has worked closely with various national team coaches in the past, also sent his condolences to Chidzambwa.
“I have just learnt with sadness, and sorrow, the sad news of the passing away of the father of our country’s senior national team, Coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
“My deepest condolences to him, his young brother Misheck and the Chidzambwa family. And my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
“I hope and pray for him to have strength during this sad and difficult time,” said Mussa. The Herald