Inside Sport: BY MICHAEL KARIATI
NORMAN Mapeza might not have delivered to our expectations for FC Platinum in the Caf Champions League but that does mean he cannot succeed with the Warriors.
Mapeza takes up his first assignment for the Warriors on October 6 away to the Black Stars of Ghana in a game that will set the tone for the remainder of the Warriors’ 2022 World Cup campaign.
A win will get the Warriors back into contention for qualification to the final round of the World Cup qualifiers while defeat would surely end our dream of a maiden appearance at the global football festival.
The two teams will again lock horns in the return leg at the National Sports Stadium in Harare four days later.
It will definitely not be easy for Zimbabwe after the Black Stars lost their last encounter 1-0 to South Africa and are well aware of what another defeat would mean to their World Cup dream.
With one point from two matches, some observers are of the opinion that Zimbabwe is out of the running for the Qatar World Cup but in reality we are still with a chance of qualification.
The good news is that Ethiopia and South Africa will cancel each other out in their back-to-back showdowns and Zimbabwe will do themselves good by picking up four or six points from the two matches against the ailing Black Stars.
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As we go through the crucial stages of our World Cup campaign, we should forget about the points we dropped in the South African draw and the 1-0 Ethiopian loss and focus on the matches at hand.
The matches at hand, especially the ones coming against Ghana are not all that difficult only if we do the right things and for that matter at the right time.
We have the players and in Mapeza we have a great motivator and a tactician and what the players need now is to believe in themselves that we can overcome the Black Stars of West Africa.
We have every reason to believe that we can beat Ethiopia when they visit us at the National Sports Stadium and at full strength we should also be able to beat South Africa in their own backyard.
So, the starting point is the points we should pick up from Ghana who themselves showed after losing 1-0 to a youthful South African side that they are not invincible.
A point to note is that the Black Stars are going through a period of gradual decline and their last of their four Nations Cup success came way back in 1982 when the legendary Abedi Pele was still a teenager.
The African Pele who starred for Marseille in France has since retired and his sons Jordan and Andre have come through but they too have failed to win Africa’s most prized football possession.
The West Africans have also failed to produce top notch players in the mound of Abdul Razak, Antony Yeboah, Pele himself, Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan and man for man we seem to match them.
Ghana are also starting afresh after firing local coach Charles Akunnor and replacing him with Sebian Milovan Rajevac whom they are paying US $45 000 a month. Akunnor was getting US$25 000.
Fine, Prince Dube should be back by then but we should also plan our things knowing pretty well that we might not have our United Kingdom based stars due to Covid-19 rules in that part of the globe.
Whatever happens, we know that Mapeza has been and is following the developments and will surely have other player options in case the United Kingdom tragedy strikes.
The likes of Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona know that this is their last chance for a dance with the best at the World Cup and should be ready to make the best out of the opportunity presented.
So far, it is not looking good, but after the departure of Zdravko Logarusic, we should look forward to a change in performance and move steps upwards.
It is not over until the last game of the World Cup qualifiers and as things stand right now, we still have a chance of making it to the next round. – First, we have to beat Ghana home and away.
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