HARARE — Zimbabwe’s national soccer team, the Warriors, have shifted their focus to the less glamorous Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Castle Cup to appease their fans following their poor performance in the 2014 World Cup
The Warriors performed dismally in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as they managed to get one point from five games.
The soccer show now is in the neighbourhood. Team manager Shariff Mussa has already announced an 18-member team for the regional tournament which includes some survivors from the disappointing World Cup squad.
Coach Klaus Dieter Pagels, who says the Warriors have recovered from their poor display in the World Cup qualifiers, believes that his team will clinch the COSAFA Cup.
Although Pagels had indicated that he would field only locally-based players in the tournament, the coach has changed his mind and has called into the team captain Denver Mukamba, who is based in South Africa.
He has also included some members of his disappointing World Cup squad - goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupadengu, infield players Ocean Mushure, Felix Chindungwe, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Chitiyo, Masimba Mambare and Devon Chafa.
Pagels is under pressure to deliver as the four COSAFA Castle Cup titles Zimbabwe won in the past were all under local coaches. Sunday Chidzambwa has two titles to his belt while brother, Misheck, and Charles Mhlauri, who is now based in the USA, have won a title apiece.
Assistant Warriors coach Peter Ndlovu has asked the fans not to put pressure on the team as they seek a fifth regional title after winning in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2009.
Ndlovu claims the players have learnt a lot from their mistakes.
Locally, Dynamos dismissed How Mine, 3-0 in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match played Sunday at Rufaro Stadium. In other matches, Triangle 1, Black Mambas 0; Shabanie Mine 1, Chicken Inn 2; Hwange 4, Harare City 1.