HARARE – Fans have got a vital role to play in tomorrow’s crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Zimbabwe and Malawi at the National Sports Stadium.
The Warriors are in pole position in Group L with only two games to go before the campaign comes to an end.
Zimbabwe have destiny in their own hands as they only need to beat Malawi tomorrow and secure a point in the final group game away to Guinea later in September.
The Warriors can even qualify for the tournament to be held in Gabon early next year if Guinea fail to beat Swaziland tomorrow in Lobamba.
What is very clear in all these scenarios is the fact Zimbabwe has to win at all costs against the Flames tomorrow.
It does not matter how they get that win, but Kalisto Pasuwa’s men need to collect maximum points against Malawi.
However, Warriors fans are a fickle lot and they tend to put the team under unnecessary pressure when the team is not playing well.
In the last qualifier against Swaziland, the home supporters gave winger Marshall Mudehwe a hard time in the first period.
Instead of encouraging the young man to step up his game, the fans were already whistling for him to be substituted before a third of the opening period had been played.
Supporters must stick by the team even in dark hours, singing and urging the players to go forward.
The supporters are the team’s twelfth player and therefore remain a vital cog in the Warriors hunt for glory.
Whistling and jeering from their own fans deflates the morale and confidence of players.
Tomorrow, even if the match reaches the 90th minute and the Warriors have not found the back of the net, supporters must not go against the team.
This is football and even an injury time strike to win the match will be sufficient to maintain the Warriors in top spot in the group.
Last month, Sevilla fans remained in the stadium and gave their team a standing ovation despite having lost the Copa del Rey final to Barcelona after extra time.
The Sevilla fans stood by their team even in defeat and next season the players will appreciate this gesture by trying even harder to bring glory to the club.
Such mature fandom is required in the Warriors’ quest to qualify for their first Afcon finals since 2006.