A CABINET minister says he believes this is one of the best generation of Warriors ever assembled and has challenged them to confront their barriers without fear and driven by the confidence that they can possibly write the Cinderella tale of the 2019 AFCON finals.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who had a stint as one of the administrators at CAPS United in the past, showered the Warriors' Class of 2019 with plaudits when he paid them a surprise visit at their team base camp here yesterday. Ziyambi was here to attend the African Anti-Corruption Forum in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh about 380km from here on the edges of the Red Sea, but said he found it impossible to return home without chatting with the Warriors and encouraging them to go for greatness. "I was attending an anti-corruption meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh and I said it's impossible to go back home without coming to see those who are here representing the country because right now, where you are, you are representing Zimbabwe," he told the Warriors squad.
"Everyone who is at home, when they watch you play, remember they have their hopes on you, they are looking up to you to fly our flag high and show them what you are capable of doing, I have been following your team from a distance. I used to follow soccer closely, but these days, because of other commitments, I follow from a distance. I think this year, we have one of the best teams that we have ever produced in Zimbabwe. If you follow the statistics, passion and everything, I think you are capable of going all the way to the final."
Ziyambi said nothing was impossible if the Warriors really commit themselves to delivering for themselves and their nation, and said while the assignment looked to be an imposing one, they have cleared some tough hurdles in the past, which should provide the inspiration for them.
The Warriors open the 2019 AFCON finals with a date against hosts Egypt next Friday at the Cairo International Stadium.
"I was saying to your head of delegation and team manager, if you get to the final, I will personally make sure the President comes to watch you when you are playing the final so that you have some extra motivation," he said.
"And, when he comes, he would be overjoyed, he pledged a lot of money and he led from the front in terms of fundraising and I'm hopeful the Acting Minister of Sport (Kazembe Kazembe) will be able to come on the opening day to give moral support to you. Everyone at home is behind you, you are a fantastic group of players. I have watched you play and I have this belief in me that you can go all the way."
Ziyambi said Zimbabwe's success story in the AFCON qualifiers had been followed across the whole continent, and even the Egyptians were worried about the quality of the opposition they will face on Friday.
"I was talking to the Egyptians in Sharma el-Sheikh, the Minister of Justice, and all of them, they are actually afraid of you.
"Do you know what they said, 'You seem to have a better team than us, we have only two or three players.' So, when we said but you have Salah, they said he is the only one and that tells you that they are very afraid of you and that should give you extra motivation that when they look at you, they will try everything, dirty tactics, because they know you have an upper hand because of the quality that we have. I just came to say go and give it your all, you have all our support, your coaches are here and I believe that we are going to make it and make our country proud, I want to thank you. I will be going back home, but I can assure you we will be together and when you get to the final, I will buy a ticket and come back and watch you, make us proud, make history for yourselves also.
"You make history for us because we will be proud that we won, but you would have made history for yourselves because you are the ones who would have made it, so go all out and make history, I thank you."
Warriors skipper, Knowledge Musona, thanked the minister for paying them a visit and making them understand their spirited efforts were being appreciated.
"I would like to thank you for coming, it's very important for us to know what you are thinking about us," said Musona.
"It motivates us as a team to know that you took your time to come and be here with us. It means a lot."
Ziyambi was later presented with a Warriors' replica kit by the team's head of delegation, Bryton Malandule, the ZIFA board member who arrived here in the early hours of yesterday.