By Anashe Murombedzi
The Zimbabwe Warriors will be aiming for nothing short of a victory when they clash with regional rivals, Malawi in their second match at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon this Friday.
After losing by identical one-nil losses in their opening encounters Warriors coach, Norman Mapeza and his opposite number, Mario Marinică are expected to be working on the conversion rate.
The Warriors are taking positives from their encounter against Africa’s highest ranked team, Senegal, who won the match through a last gasp penalty.
Interestingly Zimbabwe and Malawi have been certified Covid-19 free with the Warriors only worried about the availability of midfielder, Kundai Benyu, who will be assessed ahead of the game.
The Warriors have been boosted by the availability of versatile Bournemouth left back Jordan Zemura who will give Mapeza more options on the left side of attack.
The match will be the first time the regional rivals are meeting at the Africa Cup of nations.
Zimbabwe and Malawi have however met 19 times in various tournaments and friendly matches since the turn of the millennium, with Zimbabwe winning 10 times against Malawi’s three victories.
The teams drew their last two matches, a nil-all stalemate in an international friendly in October 2020 and a 2-all draw in the COSAFA tournament in July last year..
Zimbabwe have not won their last six matches in all competitions, having lost back to back World Cup qualifiers against Ghana before losing one-nil away to South Africa and being held to a one-all draw by Ethiopia in November last year.
The Warriors also drew nil-all with Sudan in their only warm up match before the AFCON tournament.
On the other hand, Malawi suffered three losses in their World Cup qualifiers against Cote D’ivorie, Mozambique and Cameroon and only managed a 2-1 win in their friendly match against Comoros just before the AFCON finals.
Zimbabwe will also be gunning for their first victory at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2006 with their last win having been a 2-1 win over Ghana in January 2006.
The last two editions in 2017 and 2019 ended in disappointment with the barren spell at AFCON stretching to 7 matches including the one-nil defeat to Senegal on Monday.