Knowledge Musona Special Correspondent
HELLO Zimbabwe, this is your captain speaking, in the week that we open our 2019 AFCON finals campaign with a tough date against the hosts, Egypt, here in Cairo tomorrow night.
Well, in the past few days, I’m sure you have had a chance to hear about some of my thoughts about the difficult mission that we face here and why we also need to believe in ourselves and be united as a country.
I was asked this week by this newspaper what — after exactly 10 years playing for the Warriors — the future holds for me when it comes to the national team and if I had come to the stage where, after this AFCON, I could even consider to now start concentrating on my club career?
I think, you know that for the last five years I have been playing with an injured ankle, but I always tried to do my best for my country and the clubs that I have played for because I am a fighter.
I have been healed now and I feel fresh and ready and that’s why I can declare that this won’t be my last AFCON finals, no matter what happens to us here.
I think I still have time on my side, I still have 10 more years to play and that’s five African Cup finals because it’s every two years and, so, I don’t think it’s the last, especially with this team that we have.
If they don’t change things and we stay like this for the next three, four years, I think we will be a very strong team in Africa because the problem we have had in the past is that our team hasn’t stayed together for a very long time.
Of the 23 players we had last time (at the 2017 AFCON finals) only nine are here, the rest are not here, it’s a little bit difficult because some of the coaches have their favourites whom they want, if the coach stays for the next three, four, five years, I think this team will be playing at every AFCON finals.
And, I think we can do something for Zimbabwe if we stay together, I will always be available for my country because I know the people of Zimbabwe love me.
The last time, (against Egypt) I scored here and we lost 2-1 and then I scored in Harare and we lost 4-2 but we have a different team now.
I think, in football, when the back four plays together for quite a long time, they know and understand each other, they become solid and understand each other well, cover for each other.
The coach is always emphasising that every time it’s important for the defenders to be always on the goal side because if you leave the goal side open, you will let the guy in, it’s about also defending the guy without the ball, it’s about basics, doing the right things at the back.
And, if we do it right, apply the basics at the back, which we have been doing, I think even if you are not very good in football, you can always make it difficult for the opponents to pass.
The guys, who are also playing professional (football, Tendai Darikwa and Alec Mudimu who were the new additions), they know from their clubs about how to defend and, combined, our defenders have been very strong and what I like about them is that they don’t let each other down. They always back each other, we are not perfect that we cannot concede goals but we have a good defence.
There are one or two things that they have to fix, when it comes to facing experienced players, we saw some difficulties against Nigeria who created some chances, the coaches were saying don’t let the guy run at you and don’t let the guy without the ball run because he is also very dangerous.
These are the things that we have to learn, especially now, with this tournament, we cannot afford to make those mistakes at the back because we can lose a game 1-0, one chance and the team scores, we must try to be solid enough to challenge for every ball without letting it bounce.
I noticed that one of our problems is that we leave the ball to bounce and, once it does, it becomes the ball for anyone and everyone and it gives a good opportunity for the opponents but, overall, our defence is so strong and solid and in the qualifiers it was a positive campaign and we didn’t concede many goals.
It’s not only the defenders who should defend, we all have to try and do that, because we are a team and, so far, we have done well. We have no fear, we believe in ourselves and I think we are ready to take any team in the tournament.
KNOWLEDGE MUSONA, the Warriors captain, was chatting to our Senior Sports Editor, ROBSON SHARUKO, who is on assignment in Cairo covering the 2019 AFCON finals.