Can Gumbo pull it off?

Bad for his club….. but good for our national team? That is the question most soccer critics have kept asking since Rahman Gumbo took over the reins, albeit temporarily, with the men’s national soccer side.

Ready to roll - Zimbabwe Warriors.
Ready to roll – Zimbabwe Warriors.

The multi-championship winning Gumbo is facing mounting criticism over his apparent failure to turn around the fortunes of PSL moneybags, FC Platinum.

The former Warriors star, the only local coach to have won league championships in three different countries, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana, will be hoping to confound his critics, when Zimbabwe take on unpredictable Guinea this weekend in their first 2014 World Cup qualifier.

With 2010 being two years behind and the next stage two years ahead, Gumbo will be seeking to show that four years can make a big difference. The first episode ended on a sombre note with a 2-1 away loss to lowly Burundi. If the Warriors can lose to Burundi, ranked 23 places below them by FIFA, they could struggle against a Guinea team that, ranking 68th in the world, is 36 places above them.

But good African teams do not easily lose matches at home, no matter who their opponents are and Zimbabwe are one such good team at home. Much has changed since the away fixture to Burundi, 30 players having been cleared of the notorious “Asia-gate” scandal and boosting Gumbo’s selection base.

Ovidy Karuru, Khama Billiat and Willard Katsande are some of the stars that are back in the selection fold, after they were recently cleared from the match fixing allegations.

With other such gifted players as the Germany-based Knowledge Musona, Tapuwa Kapini, Tinashe Nengomasha and Takesure Chinyama, Zimbabwe have what it takes to thrash their opponents. Gumbo will only have to employ the right tactics and build enough morale. Kapini is most likely to start between the goalposts, while, barring an injury, Tinashe Nengomasha is more than likely to play in central midfield. Gumbo has always been a favourite of the Kaizer Chiefs workaholic, having almost lured him from Blacks Aces to Highlanders in 2001 and using him regularly in 2005.

Ably assisting Nengomasha in the defensive midfield role could be his Chiefs teammate, Willard Katsande, while utility player Vusa Nyoni and Ovidy Karuru could be attackers, should Gumbo use a 4-4-2 formation, depending on how Pritchard adapts to the local game.

Upfront, Musona and Dynamos’ Takesure Chinyama could be the marksman. Onismor Bhasera could play at leftback, Tapuwa Kumbuyani at right wingback, while Carlington Nyadombo and Arnold Chaka could pair in central defence.

The Michel Dussuyers-led West Africans boast talented players like Ibrahima Traore, Stade Rennais striker Sadio Diallo and Pascal Feindouno who might give the Warriors a torrid time. Other opponents in the qualifiers group are Mozambique and Egypt.

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