HARARE – Warriors captain Willard Katsande says Malawi will not be easy pushovers this Sunday in a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group L qualifier at the Nationals Sports Stadium.
Zimbabwe currently enjoy a three-point lead over second-placed Swaziland and third-placed Guinea with two matches to go in the group.
Malawi are virtually out of the race to finish top of the group as they only have two points from four matches.
The Flames, however, can still finish as one of the best placed runners-up and qualify for the tournament if they beat the Warriors and Swaziland in their last match in September.
Speaking after the Warriors’ training session at the National Sports Stadium B Arena late yesterday, Katsande conceded it will be a tough match against Ernest Mtawali’s men at the weekend.
The Warriors midfield enforcer did not train with the rest of the squad as he worked out on his own after he had travelled from Mutare yesterday.
“We will only qualify for the Afcon if we collect maximum points, especially at home,” Katsande said.
“We have to approach this game with tactical discipline; we must not get carried away because of the previous result against Swaziland.
“We need to start from scratch on Sunday and we have to work hard; the only way we can achieve our target is by working hard.”
On the dangers posed by the Flames, Katsande said: “They are a huge threat; mathematically they are still in the running to finish as one of the best runners-up. So they will make it difficult for us and they might want to spoil our party.
“We are very much aware of what is at stake. We need to approach the game in a respectful manner, whereby we listen to the coach’s game plan and execute it on the field.”
The Warriors are scheduled to take on Uganda in an international friendly match at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon at 3pm.
The match will give coach Kalisto Pasuwa a much-needed workout to try out new combinations ahead of Sunday’s match.
Pasuwa has already roped in Chicken Inn forward Obadiah Tarumbwa to replace China-based Nyasha Mushekwi, who has been ruled out of Sunday’s match due to club commitments.
“We need to win tomorrow’s game; it’s a practice game we are using to prepare,” Pasuwa said.
“Remember, you play the way you train so it’s part of our training and if we lose against Uganda then most people will start to think we will probably lose on Sunday. We need to psyche up the boys so that we win tomorrow.”
Pasuwa added: “The (Rufaro) turf is very hard and at the moment, I have got about five players who have got blisters on their legs. Since we have about 23 players in camp, I don’t think anyone is going to play the full 90 minutes.”
Strikers Khama Billiat, Cuthbert Malajila, Tendai Ndoro and Matthew Rusike are yet to join camp and are expected today.
The quartet is still held up by club commitments in their respective leagues and were the notable absentees from the squad called-up for the game yesterday.
Squad in camp:
Goalkeepers: Tatenda Mkuruva (Dynamos), Donovan Bernard (How Mine), Tapiwa Chilenga (Triangle)
Defenders: Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague, Czech Republic), Lawrence Mhlanga, Teenage Hadebe (all Chicken Inn), Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United), Blessing Moyo (Harare City), Elisha Muroiwa (Dynamos), Bruce Kangwa (Highlanders), Onismo Bhasera (Bidvest Wits, SA)
Midfielders: Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Marvellous Nakamba (Vitesse Arnhem, Holland), Kuda Mahachi (Golden Arrows, SA), Farai Madhanaga (Harare City), Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Danny Phiri (all Chicken Inn), Marshall Mudewhe (FC Platinum), Dzikamai Andre Gwaze (Gornik Zabrze, Poland)
Strikers: Evans Rusike (Mariztburg Utd, SA), Obadiah Tarumbwa (Chicken Inn), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende, Belgium), Charlton Mashumba (Jomo Cosmo, SA)