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Zimbabwe, Cameroon friendly called off

by Staff reporter
03 Jan 2022 at 05:53hrs | Views
THE proposed friendly match between Zimbabwe and AFCON hosts Cameroon has been called off.

The Warriors, who played Sudan yesterday in what could be their only preparatory match in Cameroon before the tournament gets underway, had hoped to use the two games to put the final touches on their preparations.

However, team manager Wellington Mpandare yesterday told The Herald that the plans have been shelved after the Indomitable Lions had proposed that the game be played today, instead of tomorrow.

They also wanted the match played at the Paul Biya Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations.

The opening ceremony will take place this Sunday and will be followed by the match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Mpandare said Zimbabwe were left with no option but to drop the plans for the friendly game.

"That game is no longer possible. Cameroon wanted to use the match venue for their opening game in the tournament but CAF advised that the venue is not available for use by any team five days before the start of the tournament, in line with the tournament rules.

"So the Cameroonians wanted us to play on Monday (today) but we felt it was not ideal to play two games in successive days since we had another game lined up against Sudan (yesterday)," said Mpandare.

The Warriors have been camped in Cameroonian capital Yaoundé since last Thursday. Coach Norman Mapeza has been working on combinations and tactics ahead of the tournament, which kicks off this weekend.

Mapeza has been training with a squad of 18 players. They are expected to be joined by five overseas-based players, that include skipper Knowledge Musona, before they depart Yaoundé for Bafoussam on Wednesday. Musona is scheduled to join the camp tomorrow while Tino Kadewere, Admiral Muskwe, David Moyo and Jordan Zemura were expected today.

Zimbabwe are in Group B at the 2021 AFCON tournament along with Malawi, Senegal and Guinea. The Warriors will open their campaign against Senegal next Monday at Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam. They play Malawi four days later at the same venue.

The team will then shift base to Yaoundé for the final group match against Guinea on January 18 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.

Zimbabwe have never gone past the group stages at the tournament and they are looking to break the jinx on their fifth appearance. But they face mountains in a group that is headlined by the continent's highest ranked team, Senegal.

Guinea also are made up of a galaxy of Europe-based stars while the group's minnows, Malawi, have been in ascendency in the last few years.

Zimbabwe lost key players like Marvelous Nakamba, Marshall Munetsi and Brendan Galloway to injuries while Khama Billiat and Tendayi Darikwa excused themselves from selection.

Still Mapeza has some experienced players in the mould of skipper Knowledge Musona, Onismor Bhasera, Teenage Hadebe, Thabani Kamusoko, Kuda Mahachi and Alec Mudimu, who are the only players that have played football at the AFCON finals before.

Mpandare said the technical team was particularly excited that skipper Musona had hit top form just before the start of the tournament. The 31-year-old, who has led Zimbabwe to three consecutive AFCON finals, has been enjoying a purple patch in the Saudi Pro-League. Musona has scored three goals in the last two matches to help his club, Al Tai, end the year mid-table after recovering from a difficult start.

He scored a brilliant late winner in his last game on Friday, which ended in a 1-0 victory over Al Hazm. Musona was involved in two assists in the last three games and Mpandare yesterday said the forward was in buoyant mood.

"I have spoken to him and he is in such a buoyant mood. He is feeling motivated and that is the kind of attitude that we want for our players ahead of the tournament.

"Obviously, as a team we are really inspired that our captain is in such top form. Hopefully he will bring that to the AFCON tournament and it rubs in to his teammates," said Mpandare.

Source - The Herald