SUNDAY “Mhofu” Chidzambga will lead his Warriors into their first match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with his players heaping praises on the veteran coach as a leader who can help the team achieve the impossible at the tournament.
BY HENRY MHARA
As Zimbabwe prepare for a tough match against the hosts at the 80 000-seater Cairo International Stadium on Friday next week in the tournament opener, midfielder Marshall Munetsi believes Chidzambga has enough experience to guide the Warriors to the knockout stages or “even surprise and win it.”
The France-bound player, who recently signed for Ligue 1 side Reims, says he is amazed by the work that the coach is doing in uniting the squad, which has helped them to gel ahead of the tournament opener.
“Coach Sunday is a father figure first of all. He takes care of everyone, and not looking at where you come from or your background. He is a person who talks to players personally, trying to improve our game and giving us the platform to play. He gave me this opportunity to play for the national team, and I have done my best not to let him down.”
The Warriors have not qualified beyond the group stages in their three previous appearances at Afcon, and when asked what could prove the difference as the Warriors look to make history this time around, the utility player said: “Firstly, the difference is the coach, we have a coach who has experience, who has qualified for the Afcon before and he is the coach that knows how to defend. He is a coach that knows how to put a proper structure, so we have a balanced team this time around and we know what we have to rectify from what happened in the previous tournament. And also you can see the talent that is in the team now. (For example), in the attacking players that we have and also the young upcoming players that are there at the back that are doing their best, so we have a balanced team.
Mhofu’s men have Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as other opponents in Group A, with the top two teams guaranteed passage to the round of 16.
There is an extra window for third place finishers depending on outcomes in other groups in the 24-team tournament.
We are the underdogs going into the tournament, but we have proven ourselves in the qualifiers that we can beat anyone. We had tough opponents, but we proved that we are a group of players that are trying to do the impossible, so we will go there with no pressure. Remember this year is a year of miracles, anything can happen, so we will just try to do our best. We will have to do our best, and you might be surprised at Afcon that we win it and then everyone will be happy. There are millions of people who are looking forward to us making them proud, so we are going to do it for the country.”
The opening match against Mo Salah’s Egypt is a game, which on paper looks like a David versus Goliath contest, but the 22-year-old is not worried.
“We have players who have won big cups, the likes of Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona and Marvellous Nakamba, players who are playing in the big leagues so we are going into that game with confidence. I personally think that game is going to make us big players, and it’s going to help us reach the next level.”