Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A NATIONS Cup adventure that started with Knowledge Musona’s blitzkrieg, as the first Warriors captain to score an AFCON hat-trick, finally comes to an end on the green grass of home in the THIRD month of the year on March 24.
Under the THIRD spell of Sunday Chidzambwa’s tenure as head coach.
In the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League hat-trick master-class for Juventus on Tuesday night, the Warriors will troop into camp in three days’ time for their third, and final home match, in these 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
A third win, when they host Congo-Brazzaville, will provide the fairytale ending to an adventure that started in a blaze of glory, and a flurry of goals, for the Warriors and their inspirational skipper Musona.
Two years ago, the Smiling Assassin — the Warriors’ finest servant since the legendary Peter Ndlovu — provided the perfect start to this campaign with an historic hat-trick as the Liberians were swept away by the sheer force, and relentless pursuit for success, displayed by the home side.
Now, the Warriors stand on the threshold of a successful completion of their mission needing, in the worst case scenario, just a draw at home against the Congolese Red Devils, a team that has scored in every match of this campaign, for them to be at this year’s AFCON finals in Egypt.
And, it appears, the number THREE — the number of goals which Musona scored in the first game of these qualifiers two years ago, the number of goals the football world is talking about after Ronaldo’s superhuman hat-trick in the Old Lady’s 3-0 crushing victory over Atletico Madrid — is dominating the narrative.
A number of Warriors fans can, certainly, be forgiven to believe it’s a sign of destiny that their gallant troops, who have so far defied expectations to top a group which many pundits expected would be dominated by the two Congolese neighbours, will make the final leap to the Land of the Pharaohs on March 24.
And, they will probably tell you, their fate is written somewhere in the stars because:
The match against Congo-Brazzaville is the third time their Warriors will be taking a crack at sealing their place in Egypt after two previous attempts, when they needed a home victory against the DRC, and a draw away to Liberia, they came short on both occasions.
Since a letter written by English poet
Elizabeth Barret Browning in 1839, a third-time attempt has come to represent some lucky charm where, after two failed attempts, there is always a possibility success would be achieved in the third attempt.
Three is the number of AFCON finals in which the Warriors have, so far, taken part in their three decades of flirtation with the tournament — the first one coming in Tunisia in 2004, the second one in Egypt two years later and the last one coming in Gabon two years ago.
Three is the number of the different goal-scorers, who have been on target for the Warriors in the 2019 AFCON qualifying campaign — Musona (four goals, three against Liberia and one against DRC), Khama Billiat (two goals, one against DRC and one against Congo) and Ronald Pfumbidzai (one against DRC).
Three is the number of coaches — Chidzambwa, Charles Mhlauri and Callisto Pasuwa — who have taken charge of the Warriors at the AFCON finals while it is also the number of players who have had the honour of captaining the team at the event — Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari and Willard Katsande.
Three is the number of the year (2003), after the turn of the millennium, in which the Warriors finally ended their lengthy 23-year wait for a place at the AFCON finals when, under the guidance of Chidzambwa, they qualified for the 2004 Nations Cup finals.
The Warriors also had to wait for the third decade, of their adventures in the AFCON qualifiers, for them to finally find a way to clear the final hurdle and book their place at the AFCON finals after years of coming so near, yet very far, from the continental football festival.
The country’s religious leaders, who are praying for the team’s success in the final assignment with Congo-Brazzaville on March 24, will probably also use the number three as a possible sign that a beautiful story will be written by these Warriors:
Three is a special number in Christianity — the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, the Devil tempted Jesus three times, three times Apostle Peter, as described in all the four Gospels of the New Testament, denied any knowledge of Jesus before, as correctly foretold, before the rooster crowed the next morning.
The prayers are in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
In Judaism, Noah had three sons — Ham, Shem and Japhet, the prophet Balaam beat his donkey three times a day, the three patriarchs were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the prophet Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a large fish and the three cardinal sins for which a Jew must die are murder, sexual immorality and idolatry.
There are three pilgrimage festivals — Passover, shavout and sukkot — a Jewish boy’s first hair cut comes at the age of three and potential converts are traditionally turned away three times as a test of their sincerity.
In football, three points represents a victory in a league match, winning three trophies is considered very special and a player who scores three goals, like Musona in the Warriors’ opening AFCON qualifier, usually takes the match ball home.
For the Warriors, three now represents their date with destiny.