WARRIORS goalkeeper George Chigova says his team has embraced the extra pressure of being favourites to win this year’s Cosafa Castle Cup and will play with no fear when they face Zambia in the tournament final at the Bafokeng Sports Palace tomorrow afternoon.
BY HENRY MHARA IN SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA
The match kicks off at 3pm.
Zimbabwe have been by far the outstanding team here, winning four of their five matches, scoring an incredible 16 goals in the process on their way to qualifying for the final.
So dominant have been the Warriors that their players have won four of the five man-of-the-match awards in the matches that they have played, with skipper Ovidy Karuru leading the scoring charts with a staggering six goals.
It is these performances that have led to many neutrals to mark them as favourites to clinch the title, which they last won on home soil in 2009, under current coach Sunday Chidzambwa, in charge of the team on an interim basis.
Chigova, who is set to make a return to the first 11 after missing the Warriors’ 4-3 win over Lesotho on Wednesday, believes they have the momentum and it will be difficult for Zambia to stop them.
“So far so good, we have played well, scoring the highest number of goals in the tournament, so it’s a big boost for us going into the final. We have able players who can create chances, and bar the Lesotho game, we have also been defending well. We are a balanced team which can win, and while we expect a tough match from Zambia, it would also take real effort for them to stop us,” Chigova said.
“We want to win the final because if we lose, there are people who are waiting to criticise us, so there is a little bit of pressure to win and to do it convincingly. We have embraced the pressure and we are ready to fight. This is the first time for most of us to be playing in the final so we want to do the best and win silverware for the country.”
The team has played a staggering five games in just nine days, compared to Zambia who started at the quarter-finals and have played just two games.
Tomorrow’s match is a meeting of familiar foes, with the two nations separated by Zambezi River, having met thrice at this stage of the competition before, with Zimbabwe winning twice.
“It’s always difficult to play Zambia and looking at our previous meetings, it has always been tough. It will be a game of small margins so for us we will have to avoid making mistakes. I see this game decided by just a mistake. The team that will make a mistake will lose,” Chigova said.
Zambia, having played only two matches, will start the fresher team.
“Fatigue is starting to creep in, and it will take some effort from the boys to keep playing the way we want. Zambia are well aware of that, so they will obviously try to bring the game to us, but we have good plans for them. We don’t fear them, we respect them. They have good players, but we feel we have a better squad.”
While the big goalie has been impressed by the whole team’s efforts, he has been more charmed by the co-captains Karuru and Ocean Mushure.
“Both captains have played their roles. That is what we call leading by example. Ovidy has been scoring, Ocean has been giving us width and chipping in with very crucial goals. Their experience has been invaluable to the team. They have been pushing us to do our best, and that is one of the reasons we have reached this far,” he said.
Chidzambwa is unlikely to make many changes to the team that beat Lesotho, with just a few adjustments at the back expected.
Chigova, who was sitting on a yellow card and couldn’t be risked in the semis, is certain to reclaim his number one spot, while Bruce Homora is expected to start at centre-back, partnering Jimmy Tigere, with Liberty Chakoroma pushed to the holding midfield position to partner Gerald Takwara.
Warriors probable 11
G Chigova, E Chipeta, B Homora, J Tigere, H Moyo, L Chakoroma, G Takwara, O Mushure, O Karuru, T Chawapiwa, K Mutizwa