HARARE—Zimbabwe’s national soccer team, The Warriors, have a tall order, Saturday, when they trot onto the Umuganda Stadium in the small Rwanda town of Rubavu, for their Africa Nations Championships Group D showdown against the Eagles of Mali.
The Warriors’ quarter final chances are hanging by a thread following the 1-0 defeat to Zambia, Wednesday, and the team needs to win this game at all costs to remain with a realistic chance of progressing to the quarter finals.
The Zimbabweans anchor the four team table with no point, while Mali and Uganda are in joint second position with a single point after they drew two-all in their opening game.
Zambia’s Chipolopolo lead the group with three points and will qualify for the quarter finals, if they beat Uganda in the other Group D game Saturday.
This means a loss for the Warriors against the Eagles will lead to elimination from the 16 team competition.
However, the Warriors are aware of the importance of this clash and have been training twice a day.
Renowned football commentator Charles Mabika believes there is still hope for coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s side.
“The hope is still there. We still have two games to play. I don’t see anything stopping us from beating both Mali and Uganda. It can still be done,” said Mabika.
Mabika, however, says it will not be easy for Zimbabwe, considering that they are the only team that needs to win both their remaining games to have a realistic chance of proceeding to the next
“It is going to be difficult right now. Let us not run away from it. We have the difficult task of trying to win both games,” added Mabika.
On the other hand, football fan Dannyboy Mutyambizi says people should forget about the Zambian 1-0 debacle and look forward to the Mali game with optimism.
He added that the game against Mali is a new game altogether but warns the Warriors that they need to fight hard to collect maximum points.
“This is a new game all together. Zimbabwe must fight hard to win,” said Muytambizi
Football analyst Wallace Mawire hopes that the Warriors will come out tops in the game but is straight to the point that they should guard against complacency against the West Africans.
“I am seeing my home country winning. But they should not relax and be complacent thinking it is an automatic win,” said Mawire.
Pasuwa himself has promised to make some changes after his strikers and in particular the Premiership’s 2015 top scorer Edmore Chirambadare missed too many easy to score chances against the Chipolopolo.
At around 5pm Saturday or somewhere thereafter, Zimbabwe football fans will know whether their team is still in the run or has been eliminated from the 2016 Africa Nations Championships.