LIBREVILLE – The Warriors of Zimbabwe will be hoping to get their 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group B campaign off to a positive start as they face Algeria today.
The match is set to get underway at 6pm.
Kalisto Pasuwa's men are aware that for them to reach the quarter-finals of the continental showpiece they need nothing but a win in Franceville.
Ahead of this clash, the Southern Africans faced Cameroon in a friendly on Tuesday in Yaounde as they drew 1-1 and that result will motivate them to face the Desert Warriors in high spirits.
“We are ready. Everyone will see us as the weakest team, but we do have the quality and we are ready to showcase our game,” said skipper Willard Katsande.
“Our objective is to leave a mark at this competition. We are capable of progressing through to the next stage, which is our primary target."
Looking at the George Leekens-coached side, Algeria will want to continue with their winning run as they have bagged two victories in friendlies.
They defeated Mauritannia twice, 3-1 and hammering them 6-0 in the second friendly which means they are confident ahead of the tournament.
Striker Tendai Ndoro is the man to watch for the Southern Africans and his form in front of goal will be a threat for the Algerians.
Meanwhile, recently appointed Algeria coach Georges Leekens has warned, however, that his Desert Foxes dare not underestimate the Warriors, the lone qualifiers from southern Africa.
"All the Algerian media and public are talking about is Senegal and Tunisia," acknowledged experienced Belgium-born Leekens, "but I am thinking only of Zimbabwe.
"I know they had some pre-tournament problems regarding bonuses, but the Cup of Nations history is littered with teams who have defied off-field problems to succeed.
"Zimbabwe travelled to Cameroon this week and drew 1-1 in a warm-up match – that was an impressive result against a country that have been African champions four times.
"I view our game against them as a tough challenge. We need to apply our minds 100 percent to how we are going to conquer Zimbabwe."
Leekens has good reason to respect the 'Warriors' as they triumphed 2-1 in the only previous Cup of Nations clash between the countries.
Many pundits see Algeria as potential successors to 2015 African champions the Ivory Coast, especially with new African Footballer of the Year Mahrez among their stars.
But Algeria have won the Cup of Nations only once, and that was when they hosted a then eight-team tournament 27 years ago.
They started the 2015 tournament in Equatorial Guinea as title favourites only to be fall 3-1 to the Ivorians in the quarterfinals with Wilfried Bony bagging a brace.
While there are questions about the Algerian defence, Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi provide midfield creativity and Islam Slimani and El Arabi Hillel Soudani are potent strikers. – Agencies