HARARE – Warriors’ interim coach Norman Mapeza says he wants his side to go for an all-out win against Liberia in tomorrow’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the National Sports Stadium.
Zimbabwe and the Lone Stars are in a tough Group G that also includes DR Congo and the Congo.
With only the group winners guaranteed automatic qualification for the tournament to be held in Cameroon next year, Mapeza is fully aware of the importance for the Warriors starting their campaign with a victory.
“We only have one objective of getting a positive result. There are no two ways about it; we have to win this game at all costs,” Mapeza said yesterday.
“The boys have been working really hard and those who will be picked to represent the country on Sunday (tomorrow) I think will put maximum effort to get a positive result for the country.”
The Warriors’ preparations for tomorrow’s match have been overshadowed by the row between the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and South African Absa Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns over forward Khama Billiat.
Billiat has been out for the past five weeks with an ankle injury and Zifa were insisting that he should report for camp to be assessed by the Warriors medical team.
After a bitter exchange of words, Billiat finally arrived in the country together with The Brazilians team manager Peter Ndlovu with a subsequent medical confirming the that he is indeed in no state to play.
Mapeza bemoaned the forward’s absence but said he will have to work with those players who are available.
“The previous coaches worked with him and I was also looking forward to working with him but unfortunately he is injured and we just have to work with those that are available. We are just hoping that everybody will perform to the best of their ability and give us a good result.”
Mapeza said he would delay announcing his final match-day squad for the game as he still wants to have a look at all the players in camp.
“We are yet to announce our final 18 because we still have some guys who are carrying knocks and I think Sunday morning you would be able to know who is in and who is not,” he said.
“This is obviously an important game not only for me but for everyone and it will be massive if we can get a positive result on Sunday. There is so much pressure but it’s for the country.”
Zifa have pegged the cheapest ticket for tomorrow’s game at $3 with the hope of pulling a bumper crowd. Mapeza urged the fans to rally behind the team,adding that club loyalty must not be a factor in how they behave.
“Let’s not be divided by what people are saying from one side to the other, this is football and not politics.
“Let’s have everyone come and support the team. I’m only an interim coach here and I’m doing this for the country so wish everybody would come and support the boys.”