WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa says his men are now mature enough to make their presence felt at the AFCON finals in Egypt next month.
Zimbabwe, who play the hosts in the opening match on June 21, are hoping to progress from the group stages for the first time.
The Warriors are in Group A, which also features the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
The veteran coach is not worried by the statement made by Uganda coach Sebastien Desabre that the Warriors will be the whipping boys in their group.
“This is an open group and I must say it’s one of the toughest, no doubt about that,” he said.
“We have been called the whipping boys of the group and we like it that way.
“We are the whipping boys on some people’s lips, they have said it. Yes, we are the underdogs but I believe our team is experienced enough to compete.
“That’s all I can say.”
With the AFCON tournament exactly six weeks away, the veteran coach has, of late, been working on his final draft for the COSAFA tournament which takes place at the end of this month.
Zimbabwe were hoping to use the COSAFA regional tournament from May 25 to June 8 in Durban, South Africa, to fine-tune for AFCON.
However, they have been forced to consider picking two squads after Nigeria confirmed their international friendly with the Warriors on the same day as the COSAFA final.
“Obviously we have been doing the necessary ground work. We are busy right now trying to come up with a squad for the COSAFA and AFCON tournaments.
“Then, from those two groups we will be able to pick the final squad for the AFCON. The COSAFA tournament is important in that it will also help us to see some of the players that we may need to take to AFCON.
“I think we still have some time because the squads are due to CAF at least 10 days before the tournament.
“But our squad basically will not change much. “The same players that have been playing in the qualifiers are likely to make the bulk of it and we may have one or two additions, that is, if it need be.
“I also think the Nigeria game is a good opportunity to assess ourselves. It’s the right platform to see if there are any areas that needs to be strengthened.
“Nigeria are one of the big teams on the continent and I am sure they will give us the right kind of competition (before the AFCON finals),” said Chidzambwa.
Apart from defender Costa Nhamoinesu, who has announced his retirement from international football, the good news for the Warriors coach is that almost all the players from the huge pool at his disposal are fit and ready for selection.
The greatest worry has been midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, who was sidelined for two months with a hip injury, but is now up and about. Nakamba marked his return with a late appearance last Sunday when his team Club Brugge edged Gent in the championship play-offs.