Mugove Chigada in Moanda, Gabon and Petros Kausiyo in Harare
ZIMBABWE captain Willard Katsande has dismissed speculation the Warriors staged another protest yesterday over bonuses and reiterated his men were firmly focused on their next Afcon Group B qualifier against Africa’s top-ranked side Senegal tomorrow night.
The match gets underway at 9PM.
The Warriors didn’t train in the morning yesterday after having held a 90-minute workout on Monday night, and it fed into speculation the players had boycotted training after allegedly clashing with Zifa over how much they should be paid for the point they picked in the 1-1 draw against Algeria.
“We never said we are not going to train but it was recovery day because we played on Sunday night and last night the guys who were on the bench played a friendly match to keep the fitness levels high and then the coach decided to give the whole day off and train at night and so we are training tonight (last night),’’ Katsande told our Harare Bureau.
Team manager Sharrif Mussa said the training schedule he had been given by coach Callisto Pasuwa to use for logistical planning did to include a workout in the morning.
“My schedule did not have a training session (in the morning) but what I got was an instruction from the HOD (Omega Sibanda) to bring my schedule of payments because they wanted to pay a draw bonus for the players for the game against Algeria and all this was done without any dispute,’’ Mussa said.
Katsande said they were focused on their next match.
“The guys are now looking at the next game against Senegal. The Algerian game is now behind us. We have to make sure that we come up with a result,” said Katsande.
“Everyone knows what we should do. We are happy with the first game, we showed everyone that we are not a small team. We told them before the game and now there is a bit of respect that we see here where we are staying.”
The Warriors were scheduled to train in the evening yesterday.
Striker Cuthbert Malajila believes they have to forget about the missed chances against Algeria.
The Warriors striker got what was one of the best chances to seal victory against Algeria, but decided to go for glory when Kuda Mahachi, who was unmarked in the box, was the best option.
That chance and efforts saved by the Algerian goalie saw the Warriors settling for a draw in a match they could have caused one of the tournament’s major upsets.
“In a game of football, when you are playing a game as a striker, you want to score goals. Sometimes it won’t happen as you want. We as a team wanted to win the game for the nation. That is why we are a team and we want to do it for the nation. Everyone out there when they see us, they are supporting and encouraging us. When you miss a chance, it is a different thing because as a player you want to get goals and when you do not score, it is a different scenario. But what can we do as a team? We have to fix that,” said Malajila.
Against Senegal, the Warriors will come up against English Premiership side Liverpool star Sadio Mane.
Malajila said: “I don’t want to talk about individuals because we played as a team against Algeria. We have seen Senegal. They are big and skilful, but we know what we can do. We were supposed to win that game; we were supposed to take three points, but that was not to be. We will train under floodlights and see how it is like and be ready for battle. I believe it was a game of two halves. We controlled the first half and they had the second half. Next game we will be fine and take it up. I think as a team we are prepared that is why we have qualified to be this far. The coach has been selecting the players that he knows can do the job at anytime. Remember, we have 11 players on the pitch, so nothing is impossible. We’ve done it before as a team and we can do it against Senegal.”
Right-back Hardlife Zvirekwi believes they have managed to ensure they get respect after the Algeria game. But respect alone will not appease this ambitious group of players based in the town of Moanda.
Zvirekwi said after the 2-2 draw, they set themselves a target of beating Senegal.
“We went onto the match with the underdog tag. We are on a mission to do the country proud and we are on a mission to make sure that we do better than the (Warriors) teams that came to Afcon before. Obviously to play against those big guys because those guys are playing at a very high level, it needs courage. It’s a privilege for some of the players playing in the lower leagues to rub shoulders with the big guys. It gives us an idea of where we are as players,” said Zvirekwi.
“It is not going to be an easy match and I never thought there was going to be any easy match in this tournament. I think Senegal are going to be tough and we need to stand as a team. We will need to go there and put up a fight against them. Obviously as underdogs, people didn’t know much about us. But after that game, they are now aware of what we can do as a team. So we are ready to give our best as a team.
“Now you can now underestimate us at your own peril. With all due respect to the teams that are in the same group with us, they have to know that we are ready to give a real fight. Obviously at this level of competition you have to go there and fight regardless of who they are. Football being football, you have to face skilful players and those playing at a high level. We look forward to counter our opponents by relying on our strengths,” Zvirekwi said.
Article Source: The Chronicle