By Grace Chingoma
Zimbabwe international defender Alec Mudimu and midfielder Kuda Mahachi are the captains of the Warriors who take on Somalia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Djibouti this evening.
The match kicks-off at 5pm local time.
Speaking to The Herald from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en-route to Djibouti yesterday afternoon, Mahachi said they still had a lot of respect for Musona and other experienced players who are not part of the team.
“We have a new-look team but, remember, we have good players in the country so anyone can play at any given time,” he said.
“But we respect the likes of Knowledge, Khama (Billiat) and Nakamba (Marvelous), they have other things to focus on at the moment, and others are injured.
“We respect them, they are still part of us and we love them with all our hearts so we will play this match for them as they are the captains and the senior players.”
The ghost of the AFCON failure still haunts them.
“We know we went to AFCON and didn’t have a great tournament but we are regrouping as a team,” said Mahachi.
“For now, we are focusing on qualifying for the group stages of the World Cup. As a national team we know that Zimbabwe has good, quality players so, I think, we are ready for the game against Somalia.”
The Warriors were only expected to arrive in Djibouti last night, leaving them with no time to train as a team.
Turkey-based Teenage Hadebe arrived early yesterday in Djibouti before he was joined later in the day by Mudimu from Wales and Leicester City’s forward Admiral Muskwe.
The biggest contingent, which spent the day in Addis Ababa, was only expected to arrive yesterday evening, leaving them with this morning to feel the match venue before playing later in the day.
“We need to take this game seriously, win away from home and then win again at Barbourfields so that we can progress to the next stage,” said Mahachi.
“We are not underrating them, we know they are ranked lower than us but we know what happens in a game of football and we are professionals who know how to handle such a match.
“We need to put our heads up together and get a good result before coming to Barbourfields but I think, as a team, we are prepared.
“We have good players that are coming on board and we have good coaches, we know it would be a difficult match away from home.
“Travelling was a problem but we are not putting that into our minds, we are professional players and I think we are going to push for the nation.”
The former Chicken Inn midfielder reunites with his coach Antipas, who will be in charge for this match.
“We are waiting to hear from our coaches about the game plan and, maybe, we will have a loosening session.
“We have just met as a team at the airport and we will hear from the coaches, we will do anything that will make us win this match,” said Mahachi.