from NJABULO MKHIZE in Durban / SAVIOUS KWINIKA in Johannesburg
DURBAN – AFRICAN legend, Peter Ndlovu, has tipped his native Zimbabwe to make a big impression at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
He attributed his belief to a sharp strike force possessed by ‘The Warriors’, who play the hosts at the opening match of the tournament on June 21.
“We (Zimbabwe) have probably the best striking force in Africa at the moment. You can argue about it but I will put my head on the block to defend my assertion,” Ndlovu said.
A fearsome striker in his heyday and the first African player to feature in a match in the revamped English Premiership, Ndlovu is full of praise of the current crop of players in the national team.
The Warriors are particularly endowed upfront with Kaizer Chiefs forward Khama Billiat and Belgian Anderlecht midfielder-cum-striker Knowledge Musona among the most exciting players during the AFCON qualifiers.
“The Zimbabwe national team that I have seen during the qualifiers has an amazing talent that can take us far in terms of football,” Ndlovu said.
He said the fact that Egypt were hosts and favourites could work to Zimbabwe’s advantage.
“We have an advantage because everyone is talking about Egypt because they are the hosts and the main team,” the legend said.
“We have to just relax because they (Egyptians) are the ones that will be under pressure to beat us and that should give us an edge over them,” the current Mamelodi Sundowns manager said.
In his heyday, Ndlovu played – and scored – in some of the most memorable encounters between Egypt and Zimbabwe. He also played at two AFCON tournaments.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda are alongside Egypt and Zimbabwe in Group A at the 2019 edition.
Former Uganda coach, Milutin Sredojevic, described this as an open group.
“Any team can top that group. It is a group where anyone can beat anyone, very competitive group that gives you the platform to go very far if you pass the first round stage,” said the Serbian.
“I believe that at least one of the finalists at this tournament will come from teams in Group A,” the Orlando Pirates coach said.
Ndlovu and Sredojevic spoke as the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) kicked off in South Africa.
The sides are using the regional tournament to prepare for the AFCON.
Seven teams from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe- will play at AFCON.
Zimbabwe are the defending champions of the COSAFA tournament ongoing in Durban, having won the tournament a record six times.
Angola and Madagascar are absent from this year’s tournament after citing different reasons.
– CAJ News