from NJABULO MKHIZE in Durban
DURBAN – RECORD winners Zimbabwe and Zambia will renew their fierce rivalry when they contest a Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) semi-final encounter at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday.
Dubbed the final-before-the-final, the 19h30 kickoff encounter will be a rematch of the past two finals.
Last year, Zimbabwe’s Warriors staged a dramatic comeback to beat the Copper Bullets of Zambia 4-2 after extra time at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo province.
The previous year, Zimbabwe again emerged victorious in a match that ended 3-1 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Six-time winners Zimbabwe have suffered a setback ahead of the “Battle of Zambezi” after head coach Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa, flew back to Harare on Monday following the death of his father.
Caretaker coach, Rahman Gumbo, expressed confidence his side would prevail against a Zambian side seeking revenge.
“I think the semi-final is going to be tough, looking at the situation Zambia never want to lose against us and we also don’t want to lose against Zambia,” Gumbo said after training.
“Zambia will always be our rivals. They are our main opponents, especially looking at a situation where we have been rivals for a long time,” the former midfielder for Zimbabwe Warriors add.
He said his side will build on the impressive 2-0 victory against lightweights Comoros in a bid to book a berth in the final.
“We just have to carry on with the way we have planned from the beginning, with the goal of reaching the final,” Gumbo said.
His side is using the tournament to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt later this month.
“We are taking this tournament seriously. We need to defend the title,” he said.
Four-time winners Zambia, who also progressed to the semi-final after beating their eastern neighbours Malawi 4-2 in penalties following 2-2 stalemate vowed to up the game to dislodge Zimbabwe.
Caretaker coach, Aggrey Chiyangi, said he had devised a secret weapon to eliminate Zimbabwe.
“We have a plan for Zimbabwe. Hopefully, the strategy will come alright,” Chiyangi said.
Zambia will be banking on strikers Emmanuel Chabula, Bruce Musakanya, Mwila Phiri and Adrian Chama while Zimbabwe will once again rely on a fearsome strike force of Khama Billiat, Evans Rusike, Tino Kadewere and Knox Mutizwa.
In the first semi-final, Botswana, who beat Bafana Bafana on penalties, will play against Lesotho at 17h00. Lesotho progressed to the semi-final following victory in penalties against Uganda.
– CAJ News