Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
GOALKEEPER Tafadzwa Dube has challenged Harare City teammates to step up their game tomorrow when they open their season with the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round, first leg match against AS Adema of Madagascar.
The Sunshine Boys, who represent Zimbabwe this year in the second tier competition, are hoping to shake off the pre-season rust and set the tone for the return leg in two weeks’ time.
Dube, a veteran of many battles, told The Herald that Harare City have the quality to go far in the tournament if they get their game plan right.
“Obviously it’s a new season with different expectations. It’s different this year because we are starting the season playing an international tournament.
“They have been around for some time. They have some history in this competition. Unlike us who are playing for the first time, they have been here before.
“We just need to have big hearts because football is just the same whether it’s played local or international. It needs strong character and the will to do more, the will to push. If we tell ourselves that we can win and then put extra effort I think we can do it.
“I think we only rested for a month and then started again. We started our preparations early so we shouldn’t worry much about fitness” said Dube.
AS Adema are regulars in the second tier competition and they warmed up to the match with a 1-0 win over old rivals Elgeco Plus. City are also coming on the back of a 2-0 win over newboys Bulawayo City in their last practice game last weekend.
Coach Taurai Mangwiro believes they should not make mistakes and concede at home. Mangwiro said they don’t have much information on their opponents but they are targeting a positive start.
“What it simply means for us is we need to have a healthy lead going into the second leg. Of course, I would want to see the team scoring many goals but I will be more than delighted if we can have a clean sheet. “What I foresee is a situation whereby we can get to improve after having watched this team play against us (in the first leg).
“For now we are just operating from the dark. What we know is they are perennial campaigners, they have been in the Confederation Cup, they have been in the Champions League.
“From past experience I have seen that the islanders are very much on the quick side. “They are not the ones who play a physical game. Most of their players are small in stature. I don’t know what it would turn out to be come Saturday but after the game I would then know exactly what we are up against.
“It is my hope we will have the job as good as done going into the second leg.”
ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, yesterday threw his full support behind Harare City and Champions League representatives Chicken Inn.
“We would like to wish our clubs, Chicken Inn and Harare City well as they embark in their CAF Champions league and CAF Confederation cup journey respectively.
“As ZIFA we are very optimistic that our local clubs will scale this initial hurdle and emerge triumphant in their respective competitions.
“We have full confidence that Chicken Inn and Harare City will display impressive performance, fly our flag high in the continental pedestal and undoubtedly defend our national sovereignty and pride.
“On behalf of the ZIFA Executive Committee, the ZIFA Assembly, the entire football loving community of Zimbabwe, and on my own behalf, I extend my best wishes to Chicken Inn and Harare City in their African safari. “Go and conquer,” said Chiyangwa.