WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa says he was not taking the COSAFA Cup lightly and has set his sights on a successful defence of the regional title considered inferior to the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt where the country senior men’s football team is headed next.
The COSAFA Cup tournament will begin on Saturday in Durban, South Africa, and six-time winners Zimbabwe are assured of, at least, two games before leaving for Nigeria for a high-profile international friendly match against the Super Eagles on June 8.
Zimbabwe, who have won the last two editions of the COSAFA Cup, will start their title defence at the quarterfinal stage.
Chidzambwa, who is the most successful coach in the history of the tournament, having led Zimbabwe to three titles, said the COSAFA Cup should be taken seriously since it affords the Warriors a platform to fine-tune their game ahead of the AFCON jamboree set to run from June 21 to July 19.
The veteran coach said, unlike other AFCON-bound Southern African nations such as Angola, South Africa, Madagascar and Namibia, who are sending second string sides, Zimbabwe was giving the tournament a bit more respect.
“We are taking both tournaments seriously. We would love to retain the COSAFA trophy and also we would love to go beyond the group stages in Egypt,” Chidzambwa told reporters after his team’s training session in Harare on Wednesday.
“As a coach, if you play any tournament, the target is to win and I would like to win or get to the final in each and every tournament we play and lifting the Cosafa trophy will be a record.
“So I would love to win the Cosafa and also get past the group stages in the AFCON,” Chidzambwa said.
The former Dynamos footballer and coach announced his 34-member squad last week said he was confident he had the arsenal to strike a balance between the Cosafa and the AFCON preparatory friendly match against Nigeria.
The Warriors began their preparations on Monday for the regional football tournament as well as AFCON with most of the players included in the 34-man provisional squad getting into camp.
The England-based duo of Admiral Muskwe and Tendayi Darikwa were scheduled to join on Thursday while Belgium-based Marvelous Nakamba will arrive on Friday.
The Zambia-based contingent of Dennis Dauda, Jimmy Dzingai and Tafadzwa Rusike are set to land into the country only on Sunday because of league commitments while skipper Knowledge Musona will fly straight to Durban.
China-based striker Nyasha Mushekwi is expected to join the squad in Nigeria ahead of their international friendly encounter while England-born forward Macauley Bonne’s participation at the AFCON finals depends on him getting a Zimbabwean passport.