Zimbabwe - Nigeria Preview: Pride at stake in battle for third place
After a failed expedition in their quest for a place in the final, both teams will want to end the tournament on a high with victory on Saturday
By Shina Oludare
The Super Eagles had the stuffing knocked out of them by their inability to convert begging chances that came their way in their 4-1 defeat via penalties to 10-man Ghana in the semi-finals, while the Warriors were also bounced 5-4 in the most epic of penalty shoot-outs against Libya.
That leaves the two sides to battle it out on Saturday for what is effectively the tournament's wooden spoon.
Both are expected to field strong sides and Nigeria could again start with their prized forward line of Ejike Uzoenyi, Ifeanyi Ede and Abubakar Ibrahim.
Coach Ian Gorowa’s men will hope to return home with heads raised high by handing Stephen Keshi’s team their third defeat of the tournament to grab the bronze medal but his back four that consists of Eric Chipeta, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Milton Ncube and Partson Jaure will face a tough task stopping the Super Eagles' no nonsense attack line that have plunged in 11 goals in four games.
In another vein, the southern Africans must be at their best in terms of goal scoring if they hope to profit from the defensive lapses of the Azubuike Egwekwe-marshaled defence that has seeped out seven goals in the competition.
One fact that may interest football fans is that Gorowa’s men have scored just three goals and have been punished just once by opposing teams.
This game will be the ninth meeting between both sides on the international scene and Zimbabwean will be chasing their first win in 33 years over the Eagles. The only time the Warriors triumphed over the Eagles was in their first meeting ever in a friendly encounter played in Harare on August 1, 1981. It ended 3-0 in favour of Zimbabwe.
Both countries last met at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt with Nigeria coasting home to a 2-0 victory courtesy of two quick second half goals from Christian Obodo and John Obi Mikel.
Will the Warriors be second time lucky against the Eagles? ----------------- goal.com