CHAN qualifiers enter final round

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Tadious Manyepo

Harare - Qualification for the CHAN 2020 tournament enters its final round in this part of the continent this weekend with a number of pulsating encounters lined up.

The CHAN tournament will be held in Cameroon next year.

And Zimbabwe, who missed the last edition after they were pipped to the stage by Namibia, are eager to return to the fiesta exclusively reserved for players plying their trade in their respective domestic leagues.

The Warriors entertain Lesotho in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday before travelling to Maseru for the second leg next month.

They have drafted the Under-23 national coach Tonderai Ndiraya into the technical set up and they will be hoping to make the trip to Cameroon ahead of Lesotho.

But barely two weeks after his largely foreign based contingent were made to sweat for a group stage passage by minnows Somalia in the preliminary round 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in front of home fans, coach Joey Antipas knows he would have to put his head on the block on Sunday.

Antipas was booed as Zimbabwe stared what would have been an embarrassing exit at the hands of the lowest ranked team in the world.

But late goals, including one scored deep into injury time by Kaizer Chiefs talisman Khama Billiat, saved the gaffer’s head.

He knows the constituency is not 100 percent sure of his capabilities following that near collapse and has left nothing to chance after fusing determination and experience in his team.

For someone in a six-month probation, he has to beat Lesotho on aggregate to secure Zimbabwe's place on the plane to Cameroon.

He doesn't have to do that in a grinding manner, as he revealed this week, but with some sort of aesthetics.

"I am a dreamer and stylist as well. I want total football. We should retain a lion's share of possession. 

"If we manage to deny our opponents the ball then we are home and dry. We need to stifle their formation by keeping the ball to ourselves though we know for sure it won't be a walk down a plain street," said Antipas. 

He said Lesotho is a team which has managed to achieve a lot in recent years and the fact that the team has largely been together for some time is reason enough to get worried about. 

He knows that there is no longer a small team in modern football as the game has evolved. 

"This is definitely a difficult match we are facing. Lesotho have vastly improved as evidenced by their considerable consistency in continental football. 

"The team has been together for some time and their combination play is a marvel. That makes them a very dangerous customer to deal with. After all, the game has changed and we can't classify them as minnows anymore. We are aiming to win the first leg at home comfortably and then try to grind a result away to secure our progress."

While Zimbabwe will be taking on Lesotho, the Brave Warriors of Namibia will be out to work out a winning formula against fast improving Madagascar.  With Eswatini hosting Zambia’s Chipolopolo.

Tanzania play Sudan while the Democratic Republic of Congo visit the Central Africa Republic.

 

Fixtures

Togo v Nigeria

Niger v Ivory Coast

Ghana v Burkina Faso

Central Africa Republic v DR Congo

Equatorial Guinea v Congo

Djibouti v Ethiopia

Burundi v Uganda

Tanzania v Sudan

Ethiopia v Rwanda

Eswatini v Zambia

Madagascar v Namibia

Zimbabwe v Lesotho

 

 

 

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