The Herald (Harare)

22 January 2014

Zimbabwe/Mali: Gorowa Focuses On Mali

Photo: CAF
Warriors defender gave Malian defenders a hard time

ZIMBABWE are not let letting their priceless win over Burkina Faso get into their heads, with the Warriors yesterday immediately shifting their attention to their African Nations Championships quarter-final showdown against Mali here on Saturday.

Coach Ian Gorowa and his charges may have had a night of celebrations for their first win at this tournament which, crucially, took them through to the quarter-finals, but the former Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns coach was immediately back at work with his charges for a training session at Langa Sports Club.

There was concern, though, for the Warriors coach as eight of the players who did duty in the historic victory over Burkina Faso, complained of knocks received in that bruising battle where nothing short of a win would have seen them making an early exit from the tournament.

Big goalkeeper George Chigova, centre back Eric Chipeta, left wingback Milton Ncube, winger Kuda Mahachi, midfielders Charles Sibanda and Peter Moyo and Simba Sithole of Dynamos and How Mine's Simba Sithole (bruised head) sat out the training.

Gorowa said the eight players had come worse off from some tough tackling by the Stallions and indicated that team doctor Nick Munyonga and physiotherapist Farai Muguwe were working hard on the injured group.

"Those who did not play featured in a practice match against Chippa United (South African First Division outfit) and we did a recovery session and a workout in the swimming pool for those who played, but we are worried that there are a lot of knocks from the Burkina Faso game," Gorowa said.

The Warriors coach said they would get the full extent of the casualties when the medial crew presents an assessment report later today.

"We have a lot of knee and ankle knocks and so we have decided to give them a complete day off to rest so that we start our preparations for the Saturday game on Thursday and by that time the doctors would have given us a full report of who is who".

The coach said the injuries would also put to test the depth they have in reserve in their 23-man side.

"So far, the new players that we have thrown in have done well and if the injuries take their toll on us that is when our death has to come in from all those who are in the 23-man squad."

Gorowa -- still unbeaten since he took over as Warriors coach -- also saluted the nation which he said had united behind his team and helped them secure their place in the knock-out stages.

"This victory, I dedicate it to the people who have been praying for us and wishing us all the best. My Church AFM have been praying a lot and even those who criticised us we have to celebrate with them because this a national cause.

"It is not me, it is not Mambare or Jaure, it is a milestone for the country and we should be happy and proud as a nation," Gorowa said.

He also felt that belief and persistence had been behind the Warriors triumph but pointed out that they had found very little time to celebrate with Mali waiting in ambush at the Cape Town Stadium.

"I never doubted my players even when we drew the first two games but I felt in the first half against Burkina Faso we were trying too little too hard and I asked the guys to be a bit patient and to keep knocking and that they would be rewarded.

"We haven't even had time to celebrate and we have already forgotten about our success and that is the nature of the game.

"We have to focus on what is coming rather than what we have achieved and we have to play to get into the semi-finals now.

"Everybody keeps telling us that it will be tough against Mali but I have belief in my players and we have to give ourselves a chance and continue working hard.

"We know it is not going to be easy but if we keep working hard the Lord will take care of everything," Gorowa said.

Zimbabwe's clash against Mali will be preceded by the showdown between Nigeria and Morocco who scored two late goals to overcome Uganda 3-1 and end the East Africans hopes of place among the last eight.

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