November 19, 2019

Warriors going against the grain

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ZTN Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE Warriors have never won an Africa Cup of Nations, Afcon qualifier against Zambia since 1980, making their campaign against the northern neighbours on Tuesday evening ‘mission impossible.’

With Algeria beating Botswana 1-0 to make it two straight wins in group H of the 2021 Afcon qualifiers, the Warriors must now brush aside Zambia at all costs.

Joey Antipas’ charges drew 0-0 with Botswana in their first game in Harare while Zambia suffered a 5-0 defeat away to group favourites Algeria.

“If we are to improve, the attackers will have to try and create space for themselves. We couldn’t do that against Botswana. If you are creating a lot of movement, you are creating space,” Antipas says.

“Our attackers were just waiting and not creating space for themselves to attack.”

A repeat of that dismal Friday performance that infuriated the fans who ended up denigrating the coach in song, must be avoided in Lusaka.

The record, however, shows the Warriors are going against the grain. On April 11 1981, Zimbabwe suffered a 1-0 defeat to Zambia in the same ompetition and on April 25 of the same year, lost 2-0 away. In 1993, Zimbabwe posted their best result away to Zambia in the tournament, a goalless draw away on April 10. They again drew 1-1 on July 25 of the same year.

Over the years, Zimbabwe have faced Zambia in international friendly matches, Cosafa and other small tournaments. In total Zimbabwe lost 19 times, drew 22 and won nine times.

The rivalry between the two southern African countries over the years have been intense.

“It is not going to be easy. Our hope is that Zambia will be coming from a long trip in North Africa and our trip to Lusaka is shorter,” midfielder Ovidy Karuru said.

Zambia are ranked 17 in Africa and 81 in the world. This is compared to Zimbabwe’s 29th ranking in Africa and 117 in the world. The Warriors have been at Afcon four times, in 2004, 2006, 2017 and 2019.

Chipolopolo have appeared at the AFCON finals 17 times, but have missed the last two editions.

Kick-off for the Afcon encounter is at 6pm Central African Time.

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