HARARE – Warriors defender Costa Nhamoinesu says they are prepared to die during Zimbabwe’s quest to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be held in Gabon.
Zimbabwe are on the verge of qualifying for early next year’s tournament as they currently enjoy a three-point lead at the top of Group L with two games to go.
If the Warriors win this Sunday against Malawi at the National Sports Stadium and Guinea fail to beat Swaziland, then Zimbabwe will be going to Gabon.
Depending on this weekend’s results, the group might also be decided on the last day in September when the Warriors travel to Conakry to face the Syli Nationale while Malawi hosts Sihlangu.
However, as things stand the Warriors have destiny in their own hands as they only need to collect four points from those remaining two matches against Malawi and Guinea to qualify.
Zimbabwe last qualified for the Afcon finals 10 years ago when Charles Mhlauri’s side qualified for the tournament held in Egypt.
Since then, the Warriors have missed at least five Afcon finals despite an array of talented players available for selection.
In 2012, the Warriors were agonisingly dumped in the last qualifying round for the tournament held in South Africa by Angola on away goals rule.
Nhamoinesu, who has been playing in Europe since 2007, is confident the decade of hurt will be put to an end by this current generation of Warriors, who have defied odds to seize control of their group.
“This is a big moment for us; not for only us the players but the millions of Zimbabweans,” the Sparta Prague defender said.
“Everyone wants us to go to Gabon so this is the time we have to die a little so that we will go there.
“We will have to put maximum effort in the last two games so that we will get to the Promised Land.”
The former Masvingo United and Amazulu defender is not taking Malawi lightly this weekend.
Many fans expect the Warriors to steamroll past the Flames, who currently anchor Group L with only two points from four matches.
“We played them in the first game and we won. Obviously this is football and Sunday’s game is a different stage in our qualifying round so we now know they are a team eager to win,” said the 30-year-old defender.
“They are not coming here to throw points away. We will approach the game with caution.
“We will respect our opponents but we will put maximum effort so that we can collect all the three points here at home.”
The Warriors on Tuesday stepped up their preparations with an international friendly match against Uganda at Rufaro Stadium
Zimbabwe coach Kalisto Pasuwa decided to go for an experimental side as he rested a number of regulars, who featured in the 4-0 win over Swaziland last March.
The hosts won the match 2-0 courtesy of first half headed goals by centre back Teenage Hadebe.
The Warriors fringe players could have gone onto win by a wider margin if they had utilised the chances they created.
“We have just completed our friendly match with a positive result and so far so good,” Nhamoinesu, who sat out Tuesday’s game, said.
“It’s a different team from the one that played against Swaziland last time around and it is good for us.
“If we manage to qualify for the Afcon it will be good for us; we need depth and we need cover. This was a good performance from the team in my own opinion.”