The Herald (Harare)

31 May 2012

Zimbabwe/Guinea: Vusa Rallies Warriors

BELGIAN-based midfielder Vusa Nyoni has warned the Warriors to guard against making mistakes if they are to win their opening World Cup qualifier against Guinea on Sunday.

Zimbabwe play the Slyi Nationale, who are expected to arrive tomorrow morning, in their opening Group G match at the National Sports Stadium seeking to get off to a flying start.

Germinal Beerschot midfielder Nyoni is expected to be one of the key players in the side that will go into battle against the West Africans.

Although he is confident of victory, Nyoni said he had noted that the Warriors are often their own worst enemies by making errors which cost them matches.

Nyoni was in the team when the Warriors went to sleep a minute before full time and conceded a goal against Burundi in a 2-1 losing cause in an African Cup of Nations qualifying tie in Bujumbura on February 29.

The former Highlanders man could be thrust into an attacking role on the left side while Plymouth Argyle defender Onismor Bhasera occupies the left back position.

Nyoni yesterday challenged his teammates to rise to the occasion and live up to the expectations of the home crowd.

"We need to set up our game and win the match.

"It's important that we are playing at home and therefore we cannot afford to lose the game," said Nyoni.

"We need to focus and to avoid silly mistakes that can cost us the match

"The fans should also rally behind us for the whole game," he said.

Just like veteran midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha, Nyoni also added his voice in condemning the state of the pitch at the National Sports Stadium but was confident the Warriors would adjust.

On Tuesday, Kaizer Chiefs midfield mainstay Nengomasha said the surface at the giant stadium was forcing the ball to make awkward bounces and difficult to control.

However, Nyoni said the Warriors have to adjust to the surface.

"The pitch is a bit bumpy, but we are hoping to adjust since we are training on it".

Yesterday the Warriors did not use the main arena of the stadium as the groundsmen were still stitching lawn on some sections.

Coach Rahman Gumbo and his troops had to use the B Arena where they played CAPS United in a practice match in the afternoon.

Gumbo said afterwards that the team was taking shape as he was now working on the possible combinations.

"We should be trimming the team maybe by the end of the day tomorrow (today).

"So far everything is shaping up well and we have been working on the combinations today. Guinea play a more physical game and so we need to play a fast game and capitalise on speed and reaction.

"That is the reason why we played CAPS United for a practice game because they (CAPS) have players who are quick," said Gumbo.

Gumbo's FC Platinum lost 3-1 to CAPS United in a league match last week and maybe he took a cue from that defeat.

For Gumbo, playing against Guinea also evokes sad memories, which he said he hopes to wipe off with a positive result on Sunday.

"I still remember Guinea from my days as a player.

"I have sad memories the last time I played them because I broke my leg after going into a crude tackle here at the National Sports Stadium.

"It was to be my last game after the injury.

"Now I feel that I have a bone to chew with them," said Gumbo.

In 1993, Gumbo was part of the late Reinhard Fabisch's Dream Team that held the nation spellbound albeit in futile campaigns for the 1994 World Cup and the Nations Cup finals.

On May 2, 1993, Guinea -- powered by Abubacour Titi Camara -- who is now the country's sports minister, beat the Warriors 3-0 in Conakry before Zimbabwe won 1-0 in the reverse fixture in September.

Yesterday Gumbo revealed that Ajax Cape Town midfielder Khama Billiat was responding well to training and was also happy to see French-based midfielder Ovidy Karuru overcome a slight shoulder injury.

Gumbo did not hide his joy at having Billiat back in business.

"Its my first time to work with Khama and I can see that he is a valuable player," he said. Guinea, who played Cameroon in France, are now in South Africa where they are completing their last leg of preparations before flying to Harare tomorrow.

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