By Mukudzei Chingwere
FORMER Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderayi Ndiraya reckons the Democratic Republic of Congo might have an edge over Zimbabwe in experience but believes the presence of Club Brugge midfielder, Marvellous Nakamba and Nottingham Forrest defender Tendayi Darikwa could give the Warriors a major lift.
Nakamba — fresh from a solid performance in the UEFA Champions League match against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in Spain missed the Warriors’ last assignment against Congo in Brazzaville owing to injury.
Following his inclusion in the team that faced Diego Simeone’s men in Spain, albeit on a 3-1 losing cause, the 24-year-old midfielder became the fourth Zimbabwean after Bruce Grobbelaar, Norman Mapeza and Benjani Mwaruwari to play in Europe’s premier club knock-out competition.
Ndiraya who was an assistant to Mapeza when the Warriors began this current campaign with a fine 3-0 thrashing of Liberia reiterated his confidence with the squad at Sunday Chidzambwa’s disposal.
He was however, guarded in confidence also warning that it would not be an easy ride for the Warriors.
“I saw them play against Congo Brazzaville and their performance there was quite encouraging and the result was a great result, of course some will think they should have won the match but the African terrain is not easy when playing away.
“This time we are playing a tougher opponent in DRC, they are not pushovers they just have to go there and do their best to get a result. If you get a point away from home against a team of DRC’s calibre you would have done a great job in enhancing your chances of qualifying,” he said.
“We have a very experienced technical team that has seen it all and have done well in their respective careers. Judging on the opponent, DRC, they have better quality than us, opening up the game will be very suicidal and I am sure our technical team will be very cautious,” Ndiraya said.
He also spoke on the inclusion of Darikwa, who set to make his debut at right back for the Warriors.
“The coming in of Tendayi Darikwa adds more steel to the team and we have a much stronger squad than the one that went to Congo Brazzaville, he comes in with a high profile and experience of playing football at the highest level,” said Ndiraya. Ndiraya said Nakamba also comes to the national fold laced with top drawer experience that has been the missing link since the days of Mwaruwari who used to rub shoulders with international stars.
“We have been missing a player with so much quality in the team, a player who has played at the highest level and the last time we had that I think it was Benjani.
“That experience of playing in the Champions League hopefully will help the team against much stronger opponents, Marve is still coming from an injury and obviously he will be not at his best, but bringing the Champions League experience to the national side is quite phenomenal.
“We are going to DRC a tough opponent and at a very difficult venue to play at and I think Marve has come at the right time when the nation needs him most. DRC have many players who play at the top level and the presence of players who are playing at the top level is needed to match the Congolese.
“Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat and a number of our players have been doing very well at their respective clubs and that is a mark of a strong team which I am confident will do quite well,” said Ndiraya.