Blessing Malinganiza, Sports Reporter
Nottingham Forest and Warriors defender Tendai Darikwa admits they have a tough task ahead as they prepare for the AFCON tournament.
Warriors are in Group A with the host Egypt, Uganda and DR Congo and play the opening match on June 21.
However, Darikwa remains confident and optimistic.
“I think the draw is a good draw for us. Of course we are playing against very good players. I have seen DR Congo from our previous qualifier campaign, we finished above them so we will play them with confidence.
“The Egypt game is going to be difficult, they have many quality players and they have played in the World Cup. We have to respect Uganda as well; I’m sure all three games are going to be tough but I have confidence in each game,” he said.
If Darikwa is to be part of coach Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa first 11, he is likely to be marking Mo Salah who plays in the English top-flight league team, Liverpool.
“I don’t want put too much pressure on us with expectations but of course we will play with confidence and I believe in my team mates and in my coaches So I think we just need to go there and enjoy, play some good football and see where that takes us.
“Yeah dealing with Mo Salah is going to be a tough task, he is one of the best players in the world right now. But it’s a task I am looking forward to and in the Egyptian team there’s a lot of players we need to be focused on as well.
“I don’t think we have a plan on how to stop him but I think as a team we can try to do things to stop the Egyptians in the opening game,” he said.
Zimbabwe lost 2-1 to Egypt in 2004 where Warriors were debutants in the tournament and Mhofu was the first coach to take us to AFCON.
He is playing the team that dashed his hopes again and Darikwa is optimistic of getting a better result this time.
“Losing to Egypt in 2004, I don’t think it matters now. It’s in the past, it was disappointing to lose to them but now we have a different group of players and hopefully we can put a good performance and get a better result against them this time.
“All three games in the tournament are going to be difficult so I can’t really say if we are going to lose or draw but all I can say is that we are going to try our best in every single game.
“Like I said it’s going to be difficult but we have to focus on ourselves and hopefully come out victorious in the three matches,” he said.
“I think we have a good squad. I have always said that I have full of confidence in my team mates and my coaches as well.
“I think we have proved that by qualifying top of our group in the qualifying campaign so there is no reason why we can’t go to Egypt and hopefully progress in the tournament and do well for ourselves, for everyone in the country and everyone involved.”
Regarding his season, he said:
“My season has been okay I have played a good number of games and of course I am disappointed that my club hasn’t been promoted to the top Division in England.
“But yeah I have come to Afcon and I’m full of confidence, healthy and ready to represent my country.”