Robson Sharuko in Cairo, Egypt
KHAMA BILLIAT says the Warriors will go all out to try and get the result they need to breathe life into their 2019 Afcon finals dreams when they take on Uganda’s Cranes at the Cairo International Stadium tonight.
The match starts at 7pm.
The 28-year-old forward was one of the outstanding Warriors in the defeat at the hands of Egypt in the opening game here on Friday night.
His lively performance was, according to some of the analysts, as good, if not better, than the one produced by Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah that night.
Midway into the second half, the Al Ahly fans inside the stadium were evening singing his name and appealing to him to come and join the Cairo giants.
Yesterday, Billiat said tonight’s match was a massive test for the Warriors, who don’t only need to turn on the show, but also get the right result they need.
“We will try to go all out to get what we need,” he said as he left his team’s hotel for the final training session ahead of tonight’s game.
“The pressure is on us but let’s see what happens.”
Billiat, who was this week accused of turning down offers to speak with Zimbabwean football journalists here after a training session, revealed he was hurt by some of the things he reads on social media.
A lot of that stuff, he said, would have originated from some of those media personnel from home.
“I have no problem with talking to the journalists from home, I love talking with them, but there are some things that should be done in the right way,” he said.
“Some of the social media posts, which would be tagged by the same people, tend to bring divisions in our team instead of the unity that we need to succeed.
“We are one team and it hurts when some people, whose work should help the team and make it united, end up posting things on social media that divide us.”
He said right now all his concentration was on doing well for the Warriors and not any issues related to his club career.
Billiat and team skipper Knowledge Musona are set to keep their places in attack and could be joined by Evans Rusike who came in as a substitute against the Pharaohs.
Rusike is set to replace the injured Nyasha Mushekwi at the tip of the Warriors attack.
Big goalkeeper George Chigova returns, after missing the first match against the Pharaohs on Friday night, because of suspension.
Although his replacement, Edmore Sibanda, had a dream performance in goals against Egypt, he has been ruled out by an injury picked from that match.
The back four of Tendai Darikwa, Teenage Hadebe, Alec Mudimu and Devine Lunga will retain their places for tonight’s match.
However, it’s likely there could be a change in the defensive midfield position with Danny Phiri set for a comeback.
Marshall Munetsi played that role in the first match against the Pharaohs and had a slow start, with his early first half performance being hampered by a number of stray passes.
However, once he grew in confidence, and adapted to the pace of the game, he was one of the best players for the Warriors in the second half.
His imposing physique, coupled with his talent, makes him a formidable Warrior and it remains to be seen if he will be moved from that role tonight.
Marvelous Nakamba is guaranteed of his place in central midfield and, after a starring role against Egypt, a lot of focus will be on him tonight.
With a number of European clubs, especially in England, monitoring every move he makes, Nakamba has a grand opportunity to show that he is one of the rising stars of African football.
However, the coaches have been working on getting the midfield to coordinate better and that means Ovidy Karuru playing the supporting role for Rusike upfront.
In the last game, Mushekwi was an isolated figure and the Warriors want to see more of a link between their target man and the supporting act.
George Chigova, Tendayi Darikwa, Teenage Hadebe, Alec Mudimu, Devine Lunga, Danny Phiri, Marvelous Nakamba, Ovidy Karuru, Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Evans Rusike