Noel Munzabwa in MBABANE, Swaziland
ZIMBABWEAN coach Hebert Maruwa, who is in charge of Swazi side Green Mamba and served as a member of Callisto Pasuwa’s backroom staff at Dynamos, believes the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier between the Warriors and Sihlangu on Good Friday will be a close affair.
Maruwa also coached Division One side Hartley Academy.
“It will be a close game. Swaziland are no longer a small team and their football has developed a lot. They are very dangerous at home, they are at home where they are difficult to beat,” said Maruwa.
“As for Zimbabwe, the team which was selected is very balanced and most of the players in the team have been in good form.
“Should they translate that form to the national colours then it will be a close and interesting game and again Zimbabwe are very hard to beat at home, their away record leaves a lot to be desired but if they can get a draw here it’s good for them.
“The Swaziland team have been together for long time so they understand each other.”
Former Manzini Sundowns and Green Mamba coach Rodwell Dhlakama, who is now based in South Africa, said the deteriorating quality of the artificial turf at Somhlolo National Stadium should be a concern for the Warriors.
“It is not going to be a definite win for either side because they are both coming with high expectations given their respective positions on the log standings,” said Dhlakama.
“It will be a tight game, a tight schedule, very exciting and exhausting.
“I see Sihlangu having a slight advantage over the Warriors in Swaziland because of the nature of the field in size and texture.
“In Zimbabwe the Rufaro Stadium is hard and fast while we have natural grass at the National Sports Stadium while Somhlolo is slow and the pitch doesn’t have enough width to allow for wing play.
“This will give Sihlangu tremendous advantage since their type of play suits this type of dimensions that is play the ball on the side for the centre halves then play a long diagonal ball to the strikers for a second ball.
“The Sihlangu team has improved dramatically especially when you look at the performance in this competition to date.
“This is a great opportunity for them to move mountains in this competition.
“Current form and the two openaing results will also give the necessary energy and enthusiasm to leave no stone unturned as they now have the desire to push for a ticket and appear on the world map if they qualify for the first time in this competition.
“After all, they have the players who have got vast experience playing in the Africa safari drawn from Royal Leopard and Mbabane Swallows who have participated in the Champions League.” Dhlakama said the two teams were now direct rivals given their positions on the log.
“Sihlangu crashed out of the World Cup qualifiers after a two nil loss to the Super Eagles of Nigeria but a closer look at the performance of the team shows that whoever is taking this team as an easy side will be doing it at their own peril.
“The Warriors team has so much talent, it will be folly for anyone to assume that Sihlangu can get a result on a silver platter.
“It is a fact that the MTN Premier League of Swaziland is now at an advanced stage and players are likely to suffer from fatigue.
“Transition will also determine which team will have numerical supremacy in regaining possession and great ball exchanges.”
He said Sihlangu were over reliant on Tony Thulani Tsabedze saying his delayed return from injury could mean he will be lacking match fitness.
The Warriors are set to be hosted at the Esibayeni Lodge and their training ground will be the Manzini Sports Club. The Young Warriors were also booked at Esibayeni Lodge when they visited this country.
Djibouti, Nigeria, Angola and Malawi were booked at the Lugogo Sun.