Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen says it augurs well that two of his players are part of Zimbabwe’s African Cup of Nations squad, and backs South Africa’s neighbours to shine in Gabon.
Kudakwashe Mahachi and Danny Phiri are part of The Warriors squad that get their campaign today against Algeria at Stade de Franceville, returning to the continent showpiece for the first time since the 2006 edition in Egypt after over a decade in the wilderness.
Abafana Bes’Thende punched above their weight this season and ended the first half of the season in sixth position on the log, with coach Larsen proud to have his players representing the “small” club on the big stage in Gabon.
“I think we should be proud of this type of achievement,” Larsen tells KickOff.com. “We are a small club and we have players representing the national team – also at junior level – and we have our Diski team doing well.
“We have players at senior level doing well, so we are very proud of what is going on at the club and we feel that there’s a great vibe. We’re in the position now in the league where we brought some stability and we want to continue to improve.’’
During the Afcon qualification, Zimbabwe for the first time in their history, finished on top of the group and they will be daring in big dream but they landed themselves in one of the most difficult group, where they will face Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
Larsen feels Calisto Pasuwa’s side, who is also coaching for the first time at this level, can hold their own in this tournament with attacking players they have but he reserves some doubts about The Warriors defensively.
“At Afcon 2017, Zimbabwe has the best attacking unit. If you look at [Nyasha] Mushekwi, Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat – for me, one of the top players in the continent,” said Larsen.
“You’ve also got Willard [Katsande], Phiri and Mahachi … really they have a quality attacking unit and they are spoilt for choice. If that attacking unit finds its form, I think a lot of teams will be in trouble. I’m not so sure about them defensively, but I know one thing for sure that if their attack comes good, they will have a really good Afcon.”