HARARE - Zimbabwe captain Danny Phiri says the locally-based Warriors have a lot of work to do in next month’s second leg of the 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Comoros.
Calisto Pasuwa’s men laboured to a 2-0 victory over the Indian Ocean islanders at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday courtesy of goals from Hwange forward Evans Rusike and FC Platinum’s Marshall Mudewe.
Rusike got the ball rolling with a wonderful solo effort which saw him dribble past two Comoros defenders before beating goalkeeper Said Halifa with a low shot after only 10 minutes.
From there on, the Warriors were expected to steamroll past the lowly Indian Ocean islanders and score an avalanche of goals.
Zimbabwe created many good scoring chances but they could not break down Les Coelecantes, who are ranked 190 in the world, with Mudewe’s goal only arriving in the 89th minute.
With the number of chances they created on Sunday, the Warriors could have easily reached double figures but wayward shooting and some good saves from Halifa restricted the home side.
Phiri is fully aware a 2-0 lead can easily be overturned in the second leg f the Warriors are complacent.
“We know that everything can change in a moment,” Phiri cautioned. “We have done everything right and we are in a good position, but the game still has to be finished off. Everything looks very good at the moment, but it also needs to end well in Comoros.”
But the Chicken Inn midfielder is confident that the right attitude to ensure success is running through the team, adding: “Everyone; the players, the fans, the coaches, we are all very excited. Of course 2-0 is a good result and we hope to finish the game in Comoros. We need to go and get even more goals there.”
Hwange forward Evans Rusike echoed Phiri’s sentiments and urged his teammates to keep focussed as the Warriors attempt to qualify for the fourth straight edition of the Chan tournament.
Zimbabwe have a good record in this competition having qualified for the previous three editions in Ivory Coast (2009), Sudan (2011) and South Africa (2014).
In South Africa, the Warriors under Ian Gorowa reached the semi-finals of the competition before losing to eventual winners Libya on penalties during the tournament specifically designed for only locally based players.
“We will try to finish what we started. But we can’t stop now,” he said.
Harare City striker Tino Kadewere, who was introduced as a late second half substitute, feels Comoros will be a more difficult opponent in their own backyard.
“They will try to come at us since they will be playing at home,” Kadewere said. “So we need to stay focused. There is no need for complacency. The good thing is that we are eager to do well and we will go there with a positive mind.”
If the Warriors overcome Comoros, they will meet the winner of the preliminary round tie between Lesotho and Botswana in the first round of the qualifiers.
The Zebras will be favourites to reach the first round after emerging from Lesotho with a goalless draw at the weekend.
The 2016 Chan tournament will be held in Rwanda between January 16 and February 7.
Meanwhile, young defender Divine Lunga yesterday underwent further tests on his injured knee after he was replaced in the 65th minute during Sunday’s match.
Lunga, who was making his Warriors debut, had to be replaced by Hwange’s Pritchard Mpelele following the injury.
Warriors team manager Shariff Mussa said: “He was booked for further checkups. We will get more information from the doctors. There is nothing like he was neglected. Zifa have so far taken care of everything.
“After the game, the doctor agreed that he would be taken for a scan this morning and that it what happened.”