LIBREVILLE – ZIMBABWE will be without chief striker Knowledge Musona but plenty of confidence when they take on Africa’s top-ranked nation, Senegal, in an Africa Cup of Nations Group B encounter in Gabon on Thursday.
Kickoff is 21h00 (Zimbabwean time) at the Stade de Franceville, days after the Southern African side held another side fancied as favourites, Algeria.
Zimbabwe’s Warriors, the region’s only Southern African team at the continent’s biggest football tournament, will gain inspiration from a thrilling two-all draw against Algeria’s Desert Foxes at the same venue on Sunday.
In fact, Callisto Pasuwa’s men could have grabbed all three points had it not been a lapse of concentration late in the game against the 1990 winners.
Goalscorers against Algeria, Kudakwashe Mahachi and Nyasha Mushweki, have their confidence up while midfield kingpins Williard Katsande and Danny Phiri are again tipped to boss the middle of the park.
In the absence of the injured Musona, winger Khama Billiat looks set to terrorize the Teranga Lions with Czech-based Costa Nhamoinesu stabilizing the backline.
If 1992 champions Senegal’s result in their opening encounter, against Tunisia, is anything to go by, Zimbabweans, playing in only their third tournament, are in for a sterner test.
The West Africans won 2-0, also on Sunday.
Sadio Mane and Kara Mbodji scored the goal and will be hoping to be on target when they lead the Teranga Lions frontline in battle against the Warriors.
In another Group B match promising fireworks Algeria will play Tunisia in a North African derby that kicks off three hours earlier at the same venue.
Tunisia, winners in 1965, 1994 and 2004, will be looking forward to their marksman Ahmed Akaichi and their acrobatic goalkeeper and captain, Aymen Mathlouthi, to bounce back.
African Football of the Year, Riyad Karim Mahrez, scorer of the two goals against Zimbabwe, is again tipped to provide inspiration and the goals for Algeria.
– CAJ News