CAIRO – The Zimbabwe Warriors are plotting to cause the first upset of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament under the glare of a global audience in tomorrow’s tournament opener against hosts Egypt at the Cairo International Stadium.
The world will be fixated on the opening ceremony and the first match of the finals tomorrow night, with kick-off set at 10pm local time.
And with odds heavily stacked against them, the Warriors are adamant that they will not melt in the Cairo humidity.
They have primed themselves to ignore the expected 80 000 predominantly Egyptian fans in the stadium.
While admitting that Egypt are a stronger side with world-class players, captain Knowledge Musona yesterday told a Press conference that they would not worry themselves with reputations and profiles, but would seek to execute their plans so that they can collect all three points.
Zimbabwe and Egypt are in the same pool as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, who clash on Saturday in the second match of Group A.
A lot of pre-match chatter has centred on Liverpool super star Mohammed Salah, but Musona reiterated that they would not focus on him alone as the hosts have a number of other players that could hurt them
Zimbabwe will be seeking a fast start to the tournament and their target is to avoid defeat in the group stages.
Their ambitions are not limited to fashioning out draws alone. They want three points tomorrow night.
“We don’t fear playing at such high temperatures in Egypt,” Musona said.
“We want to win our matches and there is nothing to be concerned about. The only thing that worries us is losing a game in the group stages. Our primary objective is to be fully focused on the pitch when we face Egypt. The fans will give them an advantage, but we will try our best to get all three points.
“He (Salah) is an incredible player. He plays for one of the best clubs in the world and Egypt have a very good team and their style of play is really special.
“Egypt is not just about Mohamed Salah. They are a strong team and I have been watching them since I was young. I think their current squad can also do well without Salah.
“Everything is possible in this game, we are prepared and I hope our fans will be there to support us throughout the tournament.”
Coach Sunday Chidzambga said his team would be motivated by their win over the Democratic Republic of Congo in the qualifiers.
He also said that losing midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu was a big blow.
FC Platinum defender Lawrence Mhlanga has been called up to replace Kutinyu, who was ruled out through a knee injury. Newsday