BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
BAFANA BAFANA coach Hugo Broos is wary of the threat posed by the Warriors ahead of their potentially explosive Africa Group G World Cup qualifier at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon. The two neighbours square off for the first time in 20 years in a World Cup qualifier and this fixture is quite rich in history.
Their last meeting was in South Africa in 2001 in a World Cup qualifier with the home team emerging 2-1 victors, following up on their 2-0 win in Harare where 13 people were killed in a stampede in the darkest chapter of the history of the game in the country. And the Belgian believes sparks will fly in today’s meeting.
“I know Zimbabwe will want to beat us. They are our neighbours and they have some players plying their trade in SA and know us very well. It is going to be a tough game for both of us, but I am confident because my team will be ready.
“We will suffer maybe in the beginning of the game, but we will have to survive and be mentally strong. I think they will try to throttle us and try to kill [off the game] early. This is something many coaches will want to do when playing at home, but our players will be ready for anything they are going to throw at us,” he said.
Although the Warriors have suffered defeats in their previous two encounters, the current generation is confident of wiping out those painful memories with a victory that would set them on course for an historic World Cup berth.
This is not withstanding the unavailability of several of their England-based players including Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba who could not be released after the UK imposed a strict quarantine regulation which compels all those entering the country from Covid-19 red list zones including Zimbabwe to be quarantined for 10 days at a hotel, meaning a player would miss games for his club.
Some of the players who had been called up but are not available for today’s clash include Tendai Darikwa, Jordan Zemura, Admiral Muskwe, Macauley Bonne and Scotland-based David Moyo. United States-based defender Teenage Hadebe was also not released by his club Dynamo Houston leaving Loga’s squad severely depleted, circumstances which forced him to look up to some players who were inactive for some time.
However, with the France-based duo of Tino Kadewere and Marshall Munetsi available to complement the ever-flourishing Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat, it will be naïve for Bafana Bafana to underestimate their rivals.
Broos expressed confidence his lads would be ready for Friday’s match.
“I don’t think we are ready now but we will be ready for Friday and that’s for sure. The players are working hard; they have been good even though there are some things that could be better.
“That is not a problem because we have to be used to each other. What I have asked them to do at training they are doing, and I am sure we will be ready on Friday.”