Nickname: The Warriors
Association formed: 1965
Previous Afcon Appearances: 2 (2004, 2006)
Best result: Group stage (2004, 2006)
Coach: Callisto Pasuwa
Leading scorers: all-time –Peter Ndlovu (at least 38)
Most appearances: all-time –John Phiri
FIFA ranking: 102 (29th in CAF)
THE BIG QUESTION
Not much expectation than for them to improve on their previous performances. Can they actually do that?
WHO ARE THEY?
The Zimbabwe national football team represents Zimbabwe in international association football and has done so since the 1960s. They have never qualified for the World Cup finals, and did not qualify for their first Africa Cup of Nations until 2004.
TOP THREE PLAYERS
Willard Katsande: In his prime at 30, Katsande is a two-time PSL winner with Kaizer Chiefs and will use his experience effectively to marshal contests and break up opposition attacks in the heart of the park.
Khama Billiat: The reigning Africa-based Player of the Year hasn’t always replicated his top club form for his nation, but it will be fascinating to see how he fares against some of the continent’s best defences at the Afcon having proved so effective during Downs’ fairytale CAF Champions League campaign.
Knowledge Musona: There’s no shortage of talented operators on Zim’s books, with a player such as Marvelous Nakamba, for example, a potential breakout star of the tournament. However, we’re rounding off our top three with Musona, one of the few strikers in the competition who has scored regularly in a European league and, with four in his last six for the Warriors, has the quality to thrive in Gabon.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Saw their chance after being pooled into an open qualifying group and, with 2015 Nations Cup quarter-finalists Guinea falling by the wayside, Zim capitalised by taking top spot in Group L – three points ahead of second-placed Swaziland. They ended the campaign with 11 points after three wins, two draws and one defeat – an irrelevant 1-0 defeat by Guinea in their final fixture.
FULL 23-MAN SQUAD AFCON
GOALKEEPERS: Donovan Bernard (How Mine), Tatenda Mkuruva (Dynamos), Takabva Mawaya (Hwange)
DEFENDERS: Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague, Czech Rep.), Bruce Kangwa (Azam FC, Tanzania), Elisha Muroiwa (Dynamos), Hardlife Zvirekwi (Caps United), Oscar Machapa (AS Vita Club, DR Congo), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United, South Africa), Lawrence Mlanga (Chicken Inn), Teenage Hadebe (Chicken Inn)
MIDFIELDERS: Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows, South Africa), Williard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa), Kudawashe Mahachi (Golden Arrows, Afrique du Sud), Marvelous Nakamba (Vitesse Arnhem, Holland)
ATTACKERS: Cuthbert Malajila (Bidvest Wits, South Africa), Evans Rusike (Maritzburg, South Africa), Tinotenda Kaderwere (Djuargardens, Sweden), Knowledge Musona (Oostende, Belgium), Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang, China), Mathew Rusike (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia), Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates, South Africa)