THE Zimbabwe national soccer side troop into the Independence Stadium in Windhoek tomorrow for their combined World Cup/African Nations Cup final qualifier with Namibia hoping for an outcome that seem to have been wiped out of African football: away victories.
Not only are the Warriors hoping to beat Namibia at home in Windhoek, they are also hoping that Kenyaâ€™s Harambee Stars do the same: beating Guinea at home in Conakry.
That can still happen in Europe where England can go to Croatia and win 4-1 like they did.
But on this continent, moreso among teams with very little to chose between them, such results have become a rare occurrence, and this yearâ€™s campaign has proved that more than before.
Yet while winning at hopeless Namibia may not be such an overwhelming task for Zimbabwe, it is the game in Conakry, which has a large chunk of bearing on Zimbabweâ€™s fate, that should worry most Zimbabweans.
Letâ€™s look at the permutations:
Kenya leads the group with 10 points. Guinea are second on eight, and Zimbabwe third on six. If both Zimbabwe and Kenya were to win, the Kenyans will qualify to the next stage on 13 points. Zimbabwe, as runners-up on nine points, will not automatically qualify. They will wait for results from across the continent to see if they can sail through as one of the eight best runners-up.
If Zimbabwe win in Namibia and Kenya and Guinea draw their match, the Kenyans will qualify as group winners with 11 points. Both Zimbabwe and Guinea will end on nine points. It will then go down to a head-to-head to separate the two. Now, both legs in Conakry and Harare were drawn nil all. So they will turn to goal difference to separate the two.
Finally, the result that will see the Warriors tumble out regardless of what they do in Namibia: a Guinea win. And rest assured the Syli Nationale will go all out for it in front of an intimidating home crowd in Conakry. A Guinea win will leave Kenya in second place on 10 points, but since it wonâ€™t assure them of the best runners-up, they themselves will be gunning for victory. So thereâ€™s all to play for.
Zimbabwe, under Brazilian coach Valinhos, are on the verge of missing out on both the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the African Nations Cup in Angola the same year following an indifferent campaign in which they lost 2-0 in Kenya and drew twice at home against the Kenyans and Guinea.
Energy Murambadoro, Tapiwa Kapini, David Kutyauripo, Onismor Bhasera, Zvenyika Makonese, Zhaimu Jambo, Obert Moyo, James Matola, Esrom Nyandoro, Tinashe Nengomasha, Clement Matawu, Joel Luphahla, Ovidy Karuru, Pride Tafirenyika, Method Mwanjali, Cuthbert Malajila, Gilbert Mushangazhike, Quincy Antipas
By Enock MuchinjoÂ