Klaus Dieter Pagels’ football philosophy which has polarised opinion since the German coach’s appointment late last year faces its referendum on Tuesday night when the Warriors take on Egypt in a Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier in Alexandria.
Pagels is not promising much from this match choosing to use it as a platform to rebuild towards Afcon 2015.
But fans will be keen to see how the team he has selected fares against the Egyptians who are well placed to progress from the group after winning their two matches so far.
While it is generally accepted the team needs a fresh start, the technical team will not escape scrutiny with many already expressing reservations over the Warriors’ style of play and choice of players.
“If we win it will be a bonus; the important thing is that we are trying to build the team with Afcon 2015 as our main target,” said Pagels. “We will approach this match with a winning mentality and we will always play to win, but what we want is to play some good football and I want to see players work hard for one another.”
Importantly for Pagels Zifa president Cuthbert Dube agrees that Brazil 2014 is a lost cause and the team should focus on making sure they appear at the next Afcon finals.
Zimbabwe has so far collected just one point from their two matches after losing to Guinea before the goalless draw in Mozambique.
Pagels’ first match as head coach drew debate with some questioning the coach’s tactics emphasising one-touch-passing football.
Zimbabwe won that match 2-1 but showed vulnerability at the back where they played with three defenders.
While the team looked to have all the silk in attack they showed a grave lack of the required steel at the base of the midfield and back.
Dynamos defender Patson Jaure who is set to get a starting berth, said that the team would have to be more resolute in defence.
“We really have to be strong at the back, said Jaure. “The Egyptians, just like the Tunisians we played last week, are very strong and tall. We just need to avoid too much contact, we need to get to the ball first. We also need to be disciplined in keeping our positions.
I think at the back we are strong enough; it is the guys in attack who need to make sure they get the goals. They (Egypt) are a strong side but we are promising to go out there and show that we all deserve to be in the team.”
Several injuries to members of the initial squad will not deter Pagels who said he had picked just as good players from replacements.
Mathew Rusike and Quincy Antipas have both dealt the coach’s plans a blow but he hopes Ovidy Karuru and Masimba Mambare who were called in as replacements will do the job.
Meanwhile the newly formed Zimbabwe Football Trust will next month launch a fundraising drive coined “A Dollar for Football”, aimed at gathering resources on behalf of cash-strapped Zifa.
As they seek long term solutions to Zifa’s perennial financial problems the trust will take out its begging bowl and ask fans to donate at least US$1. They hope to raise millions to fund the association’s projects and also help offset its debt.
Dube announced that the initiative would be launched next month at the Warriors’ sendoff ceremony.
“The Dollar for Football initiative will be launched next month. We are hoping to reach out to the fans so that they can help their favourite sport,” said Dube. “Imagine how much we can raise if every fan donated a dollar at the stadia and also those who are outside the country. The Trust has been doing a great job; they have managed to raise money for the Egypt away fixture and also the Guinea away match.”