WARRIORS defender Alec Mudimu is confident that the team can navigate their way through a very difficult 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification phase and qualify to the world’s most prestigious football tournament to be held in Qatar.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe are in Group G together with Ghana, neighbours South Africa and Ethiopia. The top team in the group will progress to the final knockout round and will be pitted against one of the nine other group winners for a contest played over two legs.
Five winners from those ties will represent Africa at the 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup finals.
Ghana are being widely tipped to top the group, while South Africa have been doing well of late and are capable of anything. Zimbabwe will start as the dark horse, and Ethiopia are widely regarded as the weakling of the grouping.
Mudimu, who moved to Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol in December last year from Cefn Druids of Wales, admitted it is a hard task ahead of them in their quest to make history, but is confident that the Warriors are capable of producing a miracle.
“It’s a difficult draw for us, but this is football,” Mudimu told NewsDay Sport.
“Nothing comes easily. I’ve said it a number of times and I will continue to let everyone know that we have a quality team physically and technically in depth. We play tough draws in the hunt for World Cup qualification, but all is well. It will take serious concentration and hard work to succeed, which I’m very confident we can do also,” he added.
Mudimu is one of the Warriors players who currently play in one of the top leagues in the world, and their experience would be of immense beneficial to the team.
There are a lot other Warriors stars who have sprouted in top leagues around the world of late, and they would be expected to form the backbone of the team.
Marvelous Nakamba, who plays for Aston Villa, in the English Premier League — widely regarded as the best league in the world — leads that cast, while Marshal Munetsi plays in the French Ligue 1 for Stade de Reims, which is one of the top national leagues, currently ranked fifth in Europe.
Le Havre star striker Tino Kadewere will soon join Munetsi in the French top league after making a big move from the Ligue 2 side to join giants Lyon last month.
Defender Teenage Hadebe plays for Süper Lig club Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey, while the team’s skipper Knowledge Musona has resurrected his career at CAS Eupen in Belgium’s top division.
Other players who play at the high level include right-back Tendayi Darikwa, who turns out for Nottingham Forest in England’s second division, and there are indications that England born striker Macauley Bonne, who also plays in that division for Charlton Athletic, would have been naturalised to feature for Zimbabwe by the time the qualifiers begin later this year.
Khama Billiat remains the team’s superstar and poster boy despite playing for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa.
Warriors’ new coach Zdravko Logarušić would be expected to assemble his team around these stars and form a very formidable side capable of facing any team in the continent.
“I can’t tell our chances (of qualifying) since we haven’t played any games yet, but I’m very confident in the players, technical staff and everyone else involved in the national team. It’s a great time to be a part of this special team because we have very special players among the squad, if not everyone in the squad,” Mudimu said.
But before they can think of the World Cup qualifiers, the Warriors have a little matter of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign to deal with.
Zimbabwe are in Group H of the Afcon qualifiers, where they currently lie second behind African champions Algeria after two rounds of games.
Zambia and Botswana complete the group, with the top two teams qualifying to the finals, set for Cameroon next year.
The Warriors will resume this campaign with a back-to-back clash against Algeria in March, which would be Logarušić’s first assignment as Warriors coach.
The Croat was appointed Warriors coach last week and he will be assisted by Joseph Antipas, Lloyd Chitembwe and Tonderai Ndiraya.