Monday, March 25, 2019

Zimbabwe jubilant as Gallant Warriors secure AFCON qualification

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ZIMBABWE national team coach Sunday Chidzambwa was full of praise for his victorious Warriors after they sealed qualification for their second successive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals following a comfortable 2-0 victory over Congo-Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Midfielder Khama Billiat opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a well-struck free-kick to put Zimbabwe 1-0 up before skipper Knowledge Musona added a second 16 minutes later, pouncing on a defensive error to make it 2-0 for the hosts.
Zimbabwe, who needed at least a draw to qualify for the AFCON finals to be held in Egypt in June, held on for deserved victory which was reportedly overshadowed by the death of a supporter in a stampede outside the National Sports Stadium before kick-off.
The victory, which sparked wild celebrations from the capacity home crowd, ensured Zimbabwe made it back-to-back Nations Cup appearances while for Chidzambwa it was the second time he was guiding the Warriors to the Afcon finals.
Chidzambwa, who led the national side to their maiden appearance at the continental showpiece 15 years ago however refused to take personal credit for the team’s success and instead paid tribute to his players for their discipline, drawing comparisons between the current side and the 2004 team.
“We have some great players in our team and the first time we qualified in this country we also had great players such as the likes of Peter Ndlovu, Adam Ndlovu and the Ronald Gidizas and Joel Lupahla. The same applies to this group of players, we have talented players and we’ve never had any problems in camp,” Chidzambwa said during the post-match press conference.
“They are so disciplined and play to instructions and I wouldn’t say it’s my magic for us to qualify. It’s the players, they’re doing very well and today they did very well for the nation and I’m so happy for them.”
Chidzambwa singled out his captain Musona for special praise after the Belgium-based forward shook off a groin injury to score a superb goal which took his tally in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers to five goals.
Musona needed to pass a late fitness test in order to feature in Sunday’s match after suffering a groin injury before the start of camp ahead of the match.
“We knew what Knowledge can do in a game (like this) and I’m happy with the medical team because they did very well to manage him from the word go. As you saw he scored a great goal from nothing and as coaches we thought we cannot leave such a great player on the bench, that’s why we decided to start him,” Chidzambwa said.