The Warriors of Zimbabwe are ready to rock and roll when they enter the field of play at the National Sports Stadium on Friday to begin their campaign for an appearance at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals against the Zebras of Botswana.
From coach Joey Antipas to Khama Billiart, Ovidy Karuru and others, the word is the same, that of victory. “We want to make our fans happy by winning against Botswana and see what happens later,” said Karuru, who plays for Amazulu in the South African ABSA Soccer Premiership League.
The Warriors want to change their reputation following a poor showing at the 2019 Afcon finals in which they came back home with only one point from three matches including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the Democratic of Congo.
Coaches have changed and gone is Sunday Chidzambwa and in his place is Chicken Inn’s Joey Antipas, who has no illusions about the task at hand. “We respect Botswana. They are a team we cannot underrate but we want to go out there to get a positive result. We want to start our
campaign with a win.”
The former Arcadia United star has assembled probably the best football talents available for Zimbabwe, including Aston Villa lynchpin, Marvelous Makamba, captain Knowledge Musona who returns to the fold after missing the World Cup qualifiers against Somalia as well as Kaiser Chiefs star Khama Biliart and Marshall Munetsi, who plays for Reims in the French Lique 1.
Although Zimbabwe will be missing French-based Tino Kadewere and Charlton Athletic striker McCaulley Bonne - both presumably injured - team manager, Wellington Mpandare, says the Warriors are ready to put up a good show.
The players are happy in camp. They are looking forward to a win over Botswana. They want to go back to the Afcon finals and do better than what they have done before,” said Mpandare.
Three points against the Zebras would give the Warriors the good start they need ahead of the demanding task against Zambia’s Chipolopolo, four days later, and next year’s encounters against reigning Africa champions, Algeria.
Two teams from this group qualify for the finals in Cameroon, and Zimbabwe want to be part of that grouping having also qualified for the finals in 2004, 2006, 2017 and 2019.
The Warriors, however, face the danger of using an old kit after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority confiscated their kits from the United Kingdom on the belief that it has to pay tax.
Zifa officials have the whole of this week been trying to have the kit released but without success. The match against Botswana starts at 18.00 hours.