Warriors seek fourth COSAFA title

christopher_samakweriHARARE Zimbabwe national soccer coach Sunday Mhofu Chidzambwa leads his troops in a tricky 2009 COSAFA Senior Challenge final against stubborn rivals Zambia at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon, hunting for the Warriors fourth regional championship title. (Pictured: Warriors midfielder Christopher "Maskiri" Samakweri)

With the winners of todays final guaranteed will a whopping R300 000 prize money, the Warriors mentor will certainly not want to see his charges repeat their uninspiring performance in the semifinals when they struggled to beat a South African select side to qualify todays final against Zambia.

The losing finalists receive R150 000.

Chidzambwa hopes his boys will utilise any scoring chances that will come their way to win the game by the final whistle and avoid the anxiety of another penalty shootout.

When a team creates scoring chances and miss them, I dont think there is a problem with that team. It becomes a worry when they dont create any chances at all. It is my hope that they will make use of every opportunity they will get so that we win, said Chidzambwa.

Three-time regional champions Zimbabwe last climbed onto the winners podium in 2005 when they beat todays opponents through Francis Chandidas solitary goal, away in Mmabatho, South Africa.

Last year, Zambia denied Zimbabwe the chance to proceed to the semi-finals when the Copper Bullets triumphed 5-4 on penalties after a goalless quarter-final.

Chidzambwa, who has shuffled his team in all the four matches Zimbabwe have played so far, is likely to field Dynamos striking pair of Evans Gwekwerere and Cuthbert Malajila, hoping they can get the much needed goals in todays crucial encounter.

Gwekwerere, who has turned out for South African Premiership sides Moroka Swallows and jomo Cosmos, missed the Warriors semi-final match as Chidzambwa told reporters in Harare that he wanted to give everyone a chance to play.

The Warriors strike force remains the teams weakest link and some sections of the teams followers have registered their displeasure with the absence in the team of sure-footed Gunners hitman Norman Maroto whom the coaches overlooked.

Another fans favourite, Nyasha Mushekwi of CAPS United only featured briefly in the tournaments opening match against Mauritius before suffering an injury that has confined him to the sidelines for the rest of the tournament.

Both Maroto and Mushekwi thrive on good positioning in the oppositions box and are blessed with deadly accuracy in front of goal.

But Mhofu and the rest of the Warriors supporters who are expected to throng the match venue today, will need to pin their hopes on the eleven men who will don the green and gold jersey to do duty for their nation.

Chipolopolo sent Mozambique crashing out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory in the semifinals at Bulawayos Barbourfields Stadium last Thursday.

The Zambians have qualified for 12 African Nations Cup tournaments and finished as runners-up twice. Zambia are also the only southern African country to have produced an African Footballer of the Year Kalusha Bwalya, in 1988.

Meanwhile, the Warriors who have only qualified for the continental showdown twice in 2004 and 2006 will be hoping to shake off the inferiority complex to win their fourth regional championship title.

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