WARRIORS man of the moment Talent Chawapiwa says the national football team should forget about the recent Cosafa Castle Cup triumph and turn their focus to Namibia, whom they meet in an African Nations Championship (Chan) Southern Zone first round, first leg qualifier at Sam Nujoma in Windhoek tomorrow afternoon.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Warriors, who left Harare yesterday morning, arrived in Namibia with their tails up following a fruitful Cosafa tournament in South Africa last week, and will naturally start as favourites to win the match.
But midfielder Chawapiwa, who was one of the standout performers for the Warriors on their way to become regional champions, with his sterling performance getting him a three-year deal with South African side Baroka United, has called on his teammates to remain focused.
“We are excited about our win at the Cosafa tournament, but we have to shift our focus now. That win would mean nothing if we fail to win at the weekend. You won’t be surprised to find that the same supporters, who are celebrating with us, can turn against us and ridicule us. This is a very important match and we have to do our best to get a positive result,” he said.
Chawapiwa was part of the Warriors side, who were humiliated 4-1 by Namibia in the 2015 Cosafa Cup in South Africa, and is well aware of what the Brave Warriors can do if the Warriors put their guard down.
“Namibia are a very good side, I have played them twice and lost, so I know they are a very dangerous team. But I’m sure this time, we are going to win because of the momentum we have and the good spirit within the team. We just have to go there and collect three points and hope to finish off the job here in Harare,” he said.
“The team is in the right frame of mind because of the gold medals we won at Cosafa. Everyone is looking forward to playing in the next match. But we are feeling some pressure to maintain the level because the expectations now are very high. We have to do better than we have done so far to remain at the top.”
The speedy winger, who scored Zimbabwe’s second goal in the 3-1 win over Zambia in the Cosafa Cup final last Sunday, and was voted man of the match, also spoke about his form and what the Warriors’ fans can expect.
“I will try to continue with this form, and try to transfer the performance at Cosafa when we face Namibia. It will not be easy, but I will do my best to make the nation happy,” he said.
Chawapiwa is expected to start on the right wing, with Denver Mukamba, a late inclusion in the team after the withdrawal of Ronald Chitiyo, likely to start on the other wing.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa is unlikely to tinker with the squad that delivered him Cosafa glory.
Meanwhile, Namibia coach, Ricardo Mannetti says his team should not feel intimidated by Zimbabwe.
“We know we are the underdogs in this match. We expect to face a very strong Zimbabwe team. That much is guaranteed. We need to put in extra effort. The only way we can overcome Zimbabwe is if the players die on the pitch on Sunday (tomorrow),” Mannetti told the local Press.
“We cannot go into that game holding back. It won’t make sense to use that approach because we don’t know what will happen in the second leg in Harare.”
Namibia improved their chances of causing an upset with the announcement that forwards Hendrick Somaeb and Roger Katjiteo, as well as midfielders Petrus Shitembi and Absalom Iimbondi, who all played abroad last season, had been cleared to play tomorrow.
“These players boost the team immensely and complement the others as well.”
Kick-off is 5pm Zimbabwe time.
The reverse fixture is in Harare next Sunday, with the winner over the two legs progressing to the final qualifier, where they will face either Comoros or Lesotho for a ticket to the Chan finals to be held in Kenya next year.