The Zimbabwe Warriors launch their bid for a place at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tonight, hoping to start erasing the memories of a disastrous performance at the 2019 finals in Egypt.
After angering and frustrating their supporters in the last finals played in June, the Warriors will be looking to start rebuilding their relationship with the fans in the latest campaign.In Egypt the Warriors managed just a single point, having landed in the North African country with high hopes and expectations.There is nothing that quite matches the excitement of winning on Betway ,having qualified to the last finals with ease for the last campaign, qualification to the Afcon finals is now regarded as a bare minimum for the Warriors and they will have to prove that as they kick-start their campaign with matches against southern African neighbours Zambia.
After tonight's match, where anything less than a win would be regarded a disaster, they travel to Lusaka for a testing tie against Zambia, who themselves are desperate for a place at the Cameroon finals, having missed out on the last two editions.
Zimbabwe is expected to pass the Botswana test with minimum fuss, but they know the real battle will be in Lusaka.
Before they can think about Lusaka, they will need to put maximum concentration on the opening match lest they find themselves being a subject of scorn and ridicule once again.
They say in football there are no more small teams and that notion was proven true when the Warriors laboured against Somalia in a World Cup preliminary round qualifying match earlier this year.
Botswana will surmise that if Somalia can beat Zimbabwe, then they have a good chance of causing an upset themselves.Zimbabwe's opponents tonight have been to the Afcon finals once, but in their last qualifying campaign they managed only a single point and the Warriors will be sharpening their spears for these Zebras.
Warriors coach Joey Antipas could not hide his joy at seeing most of the stars that he called up fighting it out for places in the team on their first day of training on Tuesday."It's a great group with quality players. You don't have to constantly break down training to give them instructions. It makes it easier for the coach and all you have to do is to implement your game plan," Antipas said.
Zimbabwe will be parading their stars from Europe in this match and they are expected to overpower Botswana whose team is mainly made up players plying their trade in their country's domestic topflight.Marvelous Nakamba returns into the Warriors fold for the first time since he joined Aston Villa where he has been winning the fans over with good displays.Such good hopes can also be recieved when you play on Betway , and winning is no new thing there.
He is set to partner Marshall Munetsi, who is now at Reims in France, at the base of the midfield and the duo's presence should allow the likes of Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona the freedom to flourish up front, with a lessened burden of chasing after the ball.
Munetsi played for the Warriors in the Somalia game and starred, particularly in the second leg where he chipped in with a goal. Having shut out the PSG super stars earlier this season, Botswana will be a much easier burden for the former Orlando Pirates man.
In tonight's match, a win will be just as important as maintaining a clean bill of health for Antipas as they look ahead to the Tuesday fixture against Zambia.