22 July 2017 08:18
Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa has wielded the axe for an African Nations Championship qualifier against Namibia Sunday, hoping to avoid going from hero to zero within 15 days.
The former national team captain and centre-back was hailed as a national hero after guiding his country to victory in the COSAFA Cup southern Africa tournament this month.
But the "Warriors" suffered a surprise 1-0 away defeat by rusty Namibia last weekend in the first leg of a second round qualifier for the 2018 Nations Championship in Kenya.
Chidzambwa reacted to the loss in Windhoek by ditching four players and calling up 11 as he increased his squad to 25 players for the match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
He believes his side underestimated opponents who have not played competitively for more than a year because of feud between Namibian football association and league officials.
"I feel there was a bit of complacency among my boys because they failed to perform as they normally do," he told reporters in the Zimbabwe capital.
"We have increased the size of the squad to give us more options while dropping some players nad bringing in others. Hopefully, the reshuffle will have the desired effect."
Defender Ocean Mushure and midfielder Talent Chawapiwa, scorers in the 3-1 COSAFA Cup final triumph over Zambia in South Africa, both survived the chop.
Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti, another former national team star-cum-coach, insists his team remain underdogs despite winning the first leg without conceding a goal.
"Zimbabwe remain favourites as they have just won the COSAFA Cup, have home advantage and lots of depth in their squad," he said after arriving in Harare.
"We must show the same fighting spirit, good attitude and ability to play a high-tempo game as in Windhoek to have any chance of survival."
Qualifying for the Nations Championship -- a biennial competition restricted to home-based footballers -- is staged regionally to curb travel time and costs.
Another intriguing south zone fixture pits Lesotho against the Comoros in Maseru, an often chilly capital city at this time of year during the southern hemisphere winter.
Comoros hold a 2-0 advantage through goals from Ibroihim Youssouf and Raidou Boina Bacar as they seek overall success and a date with Zimbabwe or Namibia during August.
Uganda and 2016 Nations Championship hosts Rwanda are set to advance in the east zone afer forcing draws away to South Sudan and Tanzania respectively.
Sudan visit Burundi for a delayed first leg and Ethiopia received a walkover when the Djibouti national team was dissolved after a 5-1 first leg drubbing at home.
In the west, Benin, Guinea, 2016 runners-up Mali, Mauritania and Senegal enjoy home advantage and are likely to emerge overall winners.