Zimbabwe are one of the 16 teams in South Africa pencilled in to take part in the 2014 Chan tournament. Not many of the players in the current set-up will be known to local fans as Chan only allows players who play in their country of birth to take part.
This means the strong contingent of locally-based Zimbabwean players like Knowledge Musona, Kingston Nkhatha, Esrom Nyandoro, Tapuwa Kapini, Washington Arubi, Cuthbert Malajila, Denver Mukamba, Khama Billiat, Carlington Nyadombo and Onismor Bhasera won't be available to the Warriors.
Nonetheless, despite the absence of some of their star performers, some leading figures in Zimbabwe football believe the team have every chance of going all the way to the final on February 1 at Cape Town Stadium. The Ian Gorowa-coached side's first test comes in the form of a clash with North African giants, Morocco, on Sunday (January 12).
A former assistant coach to the Zimbabwe national football team, Lloyd Mutasa, says the well-balanced nature of the current squad can be compared favourably with the make-up of the Spain national team.
Mutasa told Zimbabwe news provider, Daily News, that the chemistry of the players at club level augurs well for the team's hopes in the tournament. He said, “If you look at the Spanish team, their biggest attribute has been the fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona players make the bulk of the team. This makes it easier for the team in terms of formations because the players already have an understanding from club level. If you look at the current squad, Dynamos have about four players, Highlanders an equal number and FC Platinum also having three players. This works in terms of combinations."
He added, “Our biggest hurdle in the group stages is Morocco and if we manage to have a positive result against Morocco then the path will be clearer for us to go into the group stages. We need to continue with our belief that we can do it and don’t give unnecessary respect to our opponents.”
Zimbabwe's game against Morocco gets underway from 17h00 at Athlone Stadium in the Mother City.