The Warriors are on the brink of sealing their qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2019 extravaganza, with a game to spare if they dismiss Liberia in Monrovia in the penultimate encounter on November 18.Warriors gaffer Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa, announced a strong squad this week, which includes gritty Kaizer Chiefs midfielder, Willard Katsande and seasoned goal poacher Knowledge Musona.
Musona missed the returned leg against DRC at the National Sports Stadium a few weeks ago after getting two yellow cards in Kinshasa.
Zimbabwe lead Group G with 8 points, while second placed DRC are on 5 points.
Congo Brazzaville and Liberia are both on 4 points.
A Warriors win against bottom placed Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium will take their points tally to 11.
This means the last game against Congo would only be useful in determining who tops the group, in the event DRC beat Congo in Kinshasa this month, and if the Warriors were to fall to Congo in the last match in Harare.
After impressive performances away to Congo and DRC where they emerged with 4 points — a 2-1 win against DRC and a 1-all draw with Congo — the Warriors have a great opportunity to dismiss Liberia in its backyard to qualify for Afcon 2019.
Liberia were floored 3-0 at the first encounter at National Sports Stadium to give the Warriors a heady start to the campaign.
Should the team pull through, it would participate in its fourth tournament since Independence after previously qualifying in 2004 (Tunisia), Egypt (2006) and Gabon (2017).
Critically, coach Chidzambwa — arguably the most successful local coach on the basis of achievements — would have taken the Warriors to their second Afcon tournament.
Chidzambwa made history by qualifying the Warriors to the Tunisia edition of the games in 2004 before former Caps United gaffer, Charles Mhlauri, led the team to qualification for the 2006 edition.
Last year, it was Callisto Pasuwa — another strong name in the country’s footballing history — who drove the Warriors to the Gabon finals.
Several Western coaches, thought to be tactically “better” than locals, have been roped in to guide the Warriors to both the Afcon and World Cup finals.
Big names including the affable late Germany national, Reinhard Fabisch, and other comical fellows such as Rudi Guterndof, were summoned to bail out the team but failed to take it to The Promised Land.
But in a world where scholars in the third world principally Latin America are increasingly advancing the concept of “Decoloniality”, the qualification of the Warriors on three occasions — and potentially a fourth time — under the tutelage of local coaches, is testament that not everything Western is good.
And as the qualification for the Cameroon tournament looks possible by each game, supporters now want the Warriors to go beyond the group stages given the depth in the team.
In Gabon, the Warriors drew 2-all with mighty Algeria before falling to Senegal and Tunisia to crash out in the group stage, probably to seal the worst performance by Zimbabwe at that stage.
In 2004, Zimbabwe lost the first two and beat Algeria 2-1 in the last match while in 2006, the team also beat Ghana in the last game.
But with stars from across the world including Tendayi Darikwa, Alec Mudimu, Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat and Marshall Munetsi, the team can only do better.
“I expect the Warriors to go beyond the group stages this time around. We have far too many good players in our team and if you look at the performances away to Congo and DRC, you can see that this team has talent is with proper tactics, it can even play in the final,” said Musa Nare, one of the many optimistic fans.