By Lawrence Trusida
The Zimbabwe senior national football team, the Warriors have given the football loving country something to smile about after qualifying for their fifth Africa Cup of Nations finals with a game to spare.
The Warriors qualified for their third successive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and fifth overall with a game to spare after a one-nil victory over Botswana which was coupled with Zambia’s 3-all draw with Algeria.
The Knowledge Musona captained side will now join 23 other nations in Cameroon next year and stakeholders in the football industry have challenged the team to go and compete at the tournament, not just make numbers.
” I am happy about qualification now we need to plan for the tournament we have been there to learn before now we need to compete and get beyond the group stages and its going to be a collective effort,” Former ZIFA Technical Director Nelson Matongorere said.
Sports Editor Makomborero Mutimukulu had this to say, “First time we qualified there was jubilation in the streets and the second time, but now it’s different we qualified yesterday and it’s business as usual because we have now gone beyond qualification we need to go to challenge and this is the best generation to do so.”
“We need to appreciate the team for what they have done and let’s support them going forward, it was a difficult time but they still need our support,” said Joel Lupahla.
The Warriors’ achievement has also excited the ZANU PF Youth League in a clear testimony that football is the country’s number one sport.
“We are proud of our fellows youths, the warriors have done the nation proud….we need to go beyond the group stages,” said Zanu PF Acting Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Tendai Chirau.
Known as the 12th man or the owners of the game, the fans are most excited.
The victory has not gone unnoticed, with one of Africa’s greatest coaches Pitso Mosimane hailing the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the team has arrived back home and will remain in camp as they prepare for their dead rubber against Zambia on Monday at the National Sports Stadium.