Zimbabwe: Ex-Warriors Stalwart Gives Rare Tip

A Pharaohs training session.

Former Warriors stalwart John Phiri has urged the team to sing the national anthem passionately before kick off to contain the intimidating scenes of the reverberating Cairo International Stadium when they take on hosts Egypt in the AFCON 2019 opener tonight.

Phiri -- an undoubted Warriors legend who claims to be the highest capped Zimbabwe international with 107 caps -- believes the national anthem has a spiritual way of arousing emotions of players.

The former Warriors defender said though the opponent might have more technically gifted players than ours, the ability to contain an intimidating atmosphere in a foreign land usually carries the day in matches like these.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Phiri went down memory lane, reflecting on his illustrious journey with the Warriors, advising the current crop on the importance of tonight's game.

"I have played for the Warriors 118 times, 11 of those matches were not official, so I have 107 international caps, and during that experience, there is one important lesson I learnt.

"Never show the opponent that you are afraid and always show the opponent that you are highly confident even if you are not."

"Of course the battle starts during the qualifiers, but the battle proper starts when you sing your national anthem, you need to be animated, to show love, passion and sing your national anthem very loudly as a team.

"It unsettles the opponent and it also has a spiritual way of arousing your emotions.

"It gives you courage, it gives you a sense of belonging and responsibility.

"If anyone sings the national anthem, they feel indebted to their country, the Warriors are no exception and that is the mentality we want. It also quickly nullifies the intimidation from the stands," he said.

The last time Zimbabwe played Egypt in 2013 in Harare, Zimbabwe lost 2-4 and the bulk of the players who played in that game still play for their respective countries, but Phiri says that does not matter now.

"We have some bad memories of Egypt, we have played them many times and this game is filled with history, we all want to win this game to clear the pain of yesteryear.

"The team that played Egypt in 2013 and the current one are totally different teams, this time we have a very strong and competitive team. Unlike in 2013, some of our star players were still young but now they are experienced," he said.

"This is a game we need the mentality of soldiers going to war.

"We do not need to think about losing or even a draw, we need to think about winning and winning the cup, that is the mentality of Warriors.

"We do not need to fear them, we need to be brave, we also have to instil fear in them by attacking them and I think we have a chance of getting a good result," said Phiri.

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