Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
AS interest grows on Zimbabwe’s high-profile African Cup of Nations qualifying showdown with Congo-Brazzaville, former Warriors defender George Mbwando has implored the nation to rally behind coach Sunday “Mhofu’’ Chidzambwa and avoid putting the veteran gaffer under undue pressure.
The Warriors will host the Red Devils in the final Group G qualifier at the Nations Sports Stadium on March 24.
Chidzambwa’s men need at least a point from that game against the Congolese to seal their place at the Nations Cup finals, scheduled for Egypt in June.
Mbwando, who played under Chidzambwa as Zimbabwe made their maiden appearance at the Nations Cup jamboree 15 years ago, said he had noted with concern “some pressure being exerted on the coach ahead of this game.’’
“I have noticed that some people are clamouring for changes in the squad. I just think that trying to make a lot of changes will not be good because there are players who started the campaign and must finish it.
“It won’t be fair to just bring in players who didn’t help in the campaign, I think Mhofu knows which positions he needs to strengthen and he can use one or two players from Europe but, on the other hand, these players are still waiting for their passport for two years now and they could have also taken part in the qualifying rounds,’’ Mbwando said.
Now a coach who holds a UEFA A-Licence, Mbwando also backed Chidzambwa to write another piece of history by becoming the first coach to guide the Warriors beyond the group stage at the Nations Cup.
“I think the whole focus should be winning the last game and I’m sure at home they are going to finish the job. I am sure with Mhofu, given the right support, he can go past the group stages at the AFCON because Mhofu is Mhofu always full of surprises,’’ said Mbwando.
“I think we have almost achieved what we always wanted as a nation, to be regulars at such big tournaments like the AFCON. I think Mhofu with his experience knows what to do and which player to take to the AFCON.’’
Mbwando said although he supported the gradual infusion of Zimbabwean players based in the Diaspora, he was not amused with the frustrations many of them had to endure to secure local passports which would make them eligible for the Warriors. Chidzambwa is expected to name his squad at the end of this week but the former Dynamos coach has seen enough to know the significance of avoiding potential banana skins in games of the magnitude.