Depleted Warriors face Angola
HARARE – The Zimbabwe national football team is without four regular players for this afternoon’s final qualifier of the 2013 African Nations Cup against Angola at Rufaro Stadium.
Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo has had a frustrating week that has seen two of his regular starters Knowledge Musona and Tinashe Nengomasha fail to arrive for the Palancas Negras match.
Musona and Nengomasha were barred from travelling to Harare by their respective clubs after the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) was late in sending their call-up letters.
Warriors’ captain and number one goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini has also been ruled out of the game through an ankle injury.
His deputy Marlon Jani also suffered a hamstring injury at the start of the week forcing him to miss his second consecutive international.
Jani missed the last match against Burundi in June when he was taken ill after a diabetes attack on the eve of the match.
Willard Katsande, who had established himself as a starter in the Warriors central midfield under Gumbo, is also suspended for today’s match after picking up a red card in the game against Burundi.
The Warriors coach has remained positive despite the setbacks in the Zimbabwe camp.
“We have been having problems getting the players but the players (in camp) are positive,” said Gumbo on Friday.
“They are looking forward to the game. The team is almost done. I am almost settled on the team that I will use; I am 90 percent. We have got almost enough knowledge on them (Angola). We have done our homework on them. What we only need is to be united. This team belongs to all Zimbabweans. The nation has to be united.”
While the Warriors camp was characterised by a late start after the team only began serious preparations on Tuesday, it was not the case with the Palancas Negras.
The Angolans have had more preparation time than Zimbabwe after starting their camp in Luanda last weekend.
Last Sunday, the Palancas Negras flew to South Africa where they set base before flying into Harare on Friday afternoon without Gilberto and Kivuvu.
They were in Johannesburg for five days and on Wednesday beat Absa Premiership side Moroka Swallows 2-1 to round up their training camp.
Despite the absence of the two players, Angola will be no pushers this afternoon.
Uruguayan Gustavo Ferrin, took over the Palancas Negras in July and has only been in charge of one match so far.
Ferrin set on the Angola bench for the first time in the 2-0 friendly international win over Mozambique last month.
If the Warriors are to have any hope of securing a berth at the finals to be held in South Africa early next year, they need a convincing first leg victory today.
The second leg will be held in Luanda next month and Zimbabwe needs to carry at least a two-goal advantage for that return fixture.