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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 17:58 GMT
The dreams of a Warrior
Farayi Mungazi
in Tunis

Zimbabawe's Peter Ndlovu
Will Peter Ndlovu lead the Warriors to Cup of Nations glory?

Zimbabwe's last-minute winner stunned the fans - and Egypt's shattered players.

The Pharaohs' coach Mohsen Saleh stood on the touchline in shock.

This was supposed to be a mere stepping stone on their way to the final on 14 February.

But Egypt had just been beaten in the opening Group C fixture of the 2004 African Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's coach Sunday Marimo resembled a child surrounded by presents on Christmas Day.

Suddenly, the idea of Zimbabwe making it to the quarter-finals in their first Cup of Nations appearance no longer seemed far-fetched.

Did I hear someone say " your dreams, Farayi?"

Well, I must admit, my fellow countrymen's 'shock 1-0 win' was indeed achieved only in my sleep.

The Warriors take their Cup of Nations bow on Sunday in Sfax but I (and millions more Zimbabweans) cannot wait that long.

And telling me to calm down is an exercise in futility because this is one moment I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

It took 12 attempts and 23 years for us to reach this point, and given my country's legendary ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it may take another two decades before we get another chance.

There's more chance of me becoming Pope than the Warriors going home with the trophy
Farayi Mungazi

So I am sorely tempted to freely indulge in wishful thinking before the start of the tournament.

It may be a step too far to suggest that Zimbabwe will be crowned African champions at their first attempt, but the desire to see one's country deliver on the big stage tends to blind many of us to reality.

In my case, the reality is that given the gulf in class between Zimbabwe and their opponents - Cameroon, Egypt and Algeria - it will take three displays of immense bravery and application to turn Group C on its head.

There are numerous reasons for this, not least the fact that the Warriors are a team far too dependent on one man - Peter Ndlovu.

Without their England-based captain's creativity, Zimbabwe tend to be no more than a group of individuals meandering through matches, each hoping that someone else will provide inspiration.

So let me state here and now that although I can hardly wait to see Zimbabwe play their first match at the Cup of Nations finals, I reckon there is more chance of me becoming the next Pope than the Warriors returning to Harare with the trophy in their luggage.

'Nearly men' finally make it
16 Jan 04  |  African Cup of Nations
Pharaohs aim to rule again
16 Jan 04  |  African Cup of Nations

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