. . . as Musona targets Tunisia return

WARRIORS coach Kalisto Pasuwa was Wednesday adamant that Zimbabwe are favourites to progress from Group B of the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon, along with another country from the other three.

Tonight, against Senegal, Pasuwa will seek to prove something to the media that kept on insisting that the praise from the locals here had given the Warriors too much confidence.

Senegal beat Tunisia 2-0 in their opener and if they go on to collect maximum points today, they will start thinking about the next round.

However, Pasuwa says the draw against Algeria was no fluke for his charges that have since grown in confidence, adding that talisman Knowledge Musona will only make a return against Tunisia.

“We as Zimbabwe have prepared very well to face Senegal. I think the draw has given us confidence considering that in our last games at AFCON, we were getting defeats.

“And for us getting a draw in our first match (was) a plus. This has given the boys better motivation to go and play against Algeria,” said Pasuwa.

He believes Senegal offer a different type of challenge.

“When playing against a team like Senegal, I have to be very brave on the ball. And very aggressive. We will not let them play the same type of football they do.

“And again on the passing game, you know our boys are small so if we resort to long balls it will be against our boys. As you know some of our boys are small. We need as much as we can to keep ball possession for us to be able to get in their attacking third.”

The history-making coach said there was no need for him not to be confident the country will progress to the knock-out stage.

“If a coach says to his players that we are not confident we will beat Senegal; we are defeated already. I have to tell them we will be on top and that is the confidence in our camp.

“Having that confidence from the people that have been watching us, it gives us a boost. Now I hope the boys will go an extra mile. When we plan for Senegal, we plan for how Senegal play.”

On Knowledge Musona, Pasuwa said: “Knowledge Musona picked a hamstring injury but it is not as bad as we thought. He will miss the game against Senegal and then perhaps come in for the Tunisia game.

“He will play again in the group stages and we hope everything will be okay for him,” said Pasuwa.

Khama Billiat, who had been affected by a fever after the Algeria game, is said to be in good condition.

“It is not very serious. Just a cough,” said Pasuwa without saying much.

Skipper Willard Katsande believes that they should not fear the lions of Teranga.

“Anyone is capable of taking this team to another level. When we played Algeria you could see that there was quality and there are world class players within their ranks.

“We were analysing Senegal as a whole and how they pose a threat and their movement off the ball. We are not worried about individuals because football is never won by individuals. But yes you may also need individuals to change the game.

“We were fortunate we watched Senegal’s first 45 minutes which were very key. That is when they managed to score both goals and obviously we were able to pick something as players.

“But now it is about the technical team, how they want us to execute the whole plan.”

Katsande said they have not planned specifically on how they can shut-out Liverpool star Sadio Mane.

We want three - Coach Kallisto Pasuwa chats with his captain Willard Katsande

“I can’t say I have a special plan for anyone. My duty is to work for the team and see that we are doing well. My duty is to win possession for the team. It is really a matter of how you break down the opposition’s attack and not how you worry about a certain individual.

“Even if you are playing against whatever world class player, winning possession for the team remains key.”

He added that they would miss Musona.

“Obviously we need Knowledge Musona’s quality and we all know how deadly he can be when it comes to finishing chances. We know how important he is to this group. We are going miss him but at the same time, that is why the coach brought in a 23-memebr squad. There is always another guy ready to take us to another level.

“Musona is our talisman but it is not time to look down on other players. There are other guys ready to deliver. If you look at Portugal they lost Cristiano Ronaldo in the early minutes of the game last time but Portugal continued to push and they were inspired by that substitute to win their tournament. And that is how it is for us as we continue going forward in this tournament,” said Katsande.

The Warriors were expected to train under floodlights last night in Moanda.