Klaus Dieter Pagels is mandated to assemble a formidable force for Afcon 2015, but after his first competitive match against Egypt triggered a typical glass half-full or half empty-debate, this Sunday’s clash with the same opponents will bring further scrutiny.
Report by Kevin Mapasure
Despite the coach’s assertion that this is not yet the time to judge him and his team, they will not escape further stringent criticism.In their lung busting contest with Bob Bradely’s charges in Alexandria, Zimbabwe provided tantalising glimpses of what can be expected from the German mentors’ famed pass-pass philosophy of football.
Yet critics will point to the error that Augustine Mbara made with a foul in the box to gift the log leaders a penalty, and the failure to select a recognised holding midfielder as evidence the team is not in the right direction.
Even with a five-point cushion Egypt are not yet guaranteed passage to the next round from Group G that also has Guinea and Mozambique.
Zimbabwe would require a spectacular collapse by both Egypt and Guinea to progress, so there is still more to fight for besides pride.
The performance and result of this match will be evidence on whether Zimbabwe is on the right track for its target, Afcon 2015.
But Pagels insists this is not the time to judge the team, for he will need a few more matches before the team is ripe and ready.
“I think it will take a further five or six matches before the team is perfect and ready for the Afcon qualifiers,” said Pagels. “We have so many players that we are looking at and we are changing players every match. I think after a few more matches we will have a proper squad in place.”
The Warriors will look to build on the resilience displayed in Egypt but look to pass more fluently and press frantically before a partisan home crowd.
Pagels has promised to parade a team with fighting spirit, highly motivated to put a performance its nation can be proud of.
“The match against Egypt is an important one; it’s a high-level international match and we will be looking to produce a positive result from a good performance. We have been working with the players and they understand what we are trying to put across to them a bit more.”
Pagels is full of surprises especially in terms of selection and with the likes of Felix Chindungwe, Nicholas Guyo and Devon Chafa in the squad one wonders which 11 will line up at kick off on Sunday. But striker Knowledge Musona, midfielder Denver Mukamba and goalkeeper Washington Arubi are some of the sure starters.