Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE national Under-23 coach Tonderai Ndiraya has bolstered his squad ahead of today’s Afcon third round qualifier against South Africa at Barbourfields Stadium by calling up Harare City midfielder Tatenda Tumba and Ngezi Platinum Stars’ striker Mandlenkosi Mlilo.
The duo is expected to give the Young Warriors, who are on the verge of being knocked out of the tournament, another attacking dimension as Zimbabwe seek to overturn a 5-0 first-leg defeat.
Ndiraya, who admitted that they have a “mountain to climb” if they are to proceed to the next stage of the competition, wore a brave face after the Young Warriors’ final training session, saying they are ready to make a comeback.
“It has been a very difficult few days for us, especially after that heavy drubbing by South Africa. There’s some hope, the boys are recovering and hopefully they respond positively,” said Ndiraya.
“(Approach to the game) the message is very simple, though difficult to knock into the players. I’ve been saying it can be done and yes it’s possible to do it. I think our preparations have been pointing to that (offensive approach), trying to make a comeback even though it’s going to be difficult because they have a healthy lead and we don’t know what tactics they’ll use. We want to employ very offensive tactic to turn around the score line,” he said.
Zimbabwe were embarrassingly clobbered in the first-leg in Johannesburg on Friday night. The Young Warriors need a miracle to overturn the score line against a South African side that brought some of its top players, who include European-based forwards Luther Singh, who plays for Portuguese side Braga, Lyle Foster, from French side Monaco, and Kobamelo Kodisang, who is on the books of Portuguese side Sanjoanense.
The trio gave the Young Warriors a torrid time in Johannesburg, with Foster teeing up Kodisang for the first goal after 17 minutes. Singh doubled their lead in the 35th minute and Mokoena added the third just before the break with a powerful shot.
After the break, Singh made it four and Foster completed the rout.
Besides Mlilo and Tumba, Highlanders’ Prince Dube and Obriel Chirinda of Chicken Inn are expected to lead the search for goals alongside Yadah’s midfielder, Leeroy Mavhunga.
On a good day, right-back Emmanuel Jalai of Dynamos and left-back Shadreck Nyahwa of Bulawayo Chiefs are capable of giving Zimbabwe attacking depth on the wings.
Harare City anchorman Tatenda Tavengwa is expected to give cover to the central defence and organise the midfield, while Clive Rupiya (Caps United) and Mavhunga are some of the attack-minded players that Ndiraya wants to come to the party.
Goalkeepers: Martin Mapisa (Velez CF) Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Defenders: Emmanuel Jalai (Dynamos) Abubakar Moffat (Velez CF) Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders) Tawanda Chisi (Dynamos) Shadreck Nyahwa (Bulawayo Chiefs) Romario Matova (FK Igman) Douglas Nyaupembe
Midfielders: Juan Mutudza (Herentals) Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City) Blessing Sarupinda (Caps United) Hagiazo Magaya (FC Platinum) Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars) Anelka Chivandire (Triangle United) Clive Rupiya (Caps United)
Strikers: Prince Dube (Highlanders) Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn) Wilfred Muvirimi (Harare City). — @ZililoR.