It is up to the Warriors to make the region proud after Bafana Bafana and Mozambique were dumped by West Africans Nigeria and Mali, in the group stages.
Ian Gorowa’s men, despite scoring just one goal in three matches, qualified for the knockout stages when they finished behind Morocco in Group B. Tonight, at Cape Town Stadium, they face Mali at 8.30pm in the quarterfinals, a match that will come after the clash between Nigeria and Morocco which kicks off at 5pm at the same stadium.
“We have received good support here because there are many Zimbabweans. But now we are not only playing for them but the SADC region, so hopefully South Africa and Mozambique’s fans will back us,” said Gorowa.
Those Zimbabwean fans celebrated the Warriors progressing to the knockout stages of Chan for the first time even though they have played in all three editions of the tournament.
Gorowa spoke about using this tournament as a measuring stick to see where some of the locally-based players are, before the qualifiers of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to be played in Morocco.
Zimbabwe, like most African nations, depends mostly on the players who ply their trade outside their borders. In Zimbabwe’s case, most of those players are in South Africa.
In this week’s PSL match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, five Zimbabweans took to the field. Knowledge Musona, Cuthbert Malajila, Khama Billiat, Kingston Nkhatha and Willard Katsande are all regulars in Gorowa’s side.
“This is the first time we are in the quarterfinals of this tournament despite having played in all three editions,” said Gorowa. “We are also the only team left from the SADC region. We hope to raise the flag of the region high.”
The other two quarterfinals will be played tomorrow, with Ghana facing the Democratic Republic of Congo in Mangaung and Gabon taking on Libya in Polokwane.