World Cup fever grips Zimbabwe

HARARE, June 12 (Xinhua) — Zimbabwe may not be represented at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but the mood among soccer crazy fans is becoming electric by the minute as the hours tick away ahead of the opening match between the hosts and Croatia on Thursday evening.

Sports bar owners are also hoping that the month-long tournament will improve their fortunes, especially at a time many Zimbabweans have been staying away from watering holes because of a prevailing liquidity crunch in the economy.

Social network site Facebook is awash with fans looking forward to the matches and hoping that they will provide good entertainment.

Some people fear low productivity at the workplace though, as some fans will report for duty late or will be sleepy as some of the matches will be played into the early hours of the following morning due to the time lag between Africa and South America.

Fans are generally rooting for European and South American teams with a few hoping that for once an African team will proceed beyond the quarterfinal stage which has been reached by Cameroon and Ghana before.

Cameroon will be making their seventh appearance at the world soccer extravaganza, while fellow Africans Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire make up the list of African teams taking part.

Local fan Simon Gomwe said he tipped Germany to lift the trophy while Cote d’Ivoire would proceed to the semi-finals, while Chris Musekiwa said he would go with three African teams to spring surprises.

“I will put my money on three African teams – Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. They boast in depth of talent, with players rated among the world’s best, plying their skills at the top teams of the best soccer leagues in the world,” he said.

However, Terrence Madzorera said he believed that of all the African teams, Ghana had the potential to proceed to the semis.

While Zimbabweans love football, their national team has not returned the favor it gets from supporters and has never been to the World Cup finals. Zimbabwe has only managed two appearances at the African Cup of Nations since independence in 1980.

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