BY TERRY MADYAUTA
FC PLATINUM shot stopper Petros Mhari is relishing the prospect of donning the Warriors Number one jersey at the Africa Cup of Nations finals which kicks off in Cameroon today
Mhari, who kept goal for the Warriors in the World Cup qualifier against South Africa, will battle for the first team spot against South Africa based Talbert Shumba and Spain-based Martin Mapisa
The Warriors begin their campaign tomorrow with a tough encounter against 2019 losing finalists Senegal tomorrow in a Group B clash.
Fellow Southern African country Malawi and Guinea are in the same group.
And being one of Norman Mapeza’s first choice goalkeeper at FC Platinum, it would not be surprise if the coach gives the 32- year- old the nod in the competition.
But unlike at his club, FC Platinum, he faces stiff competition from Shumba and Mapisa who have been in fine form for their respective clubs.
The former Hwange keeper, though, is brimming with confidence to make a debut appearance for the country at the Afcon tournament having been previously overlooked by other coaches in the past.
“It’s going to be tough because there are good goalkeepers and I think whoever is selected will represent the country with pride and from the heart,” Mhari said.
“For now, the focus is on fighting for a spot in the team and the rest is up to the coaches to decide.
“As players we can only hope to push the interests of the squad. With competition I am sure the best will be selected at the end of the day,” he said.
Mhari gave a good account of himself when he played in a narrow 1 – 0 loss to South Africa in the World Cup qualifiers in November.
Only four locally based players were able to make the final squad for the premier Africa football competition which runs until February 6.
Apart from Mhari there are defenders Peter Muduhwa and Godknows Murwira who play for Highlanders and Dynamos respectively as well as FC Platinum midfielder Kelvin Madzongwe.
Mhari reckons that the quality of goalkeepers in the team will give the technical team a selection headache.
“I know the caliber of keepers available, and the top players in the team as well. We all want the same thing.
“We possess different qualities and we all have different strengths which I am sure will give all the coaches a headache when it comes to selection,” Mhari said.
Whether he plays or not Mhari’s name will forever be etched in Zimbabwe football folklore as one of the goalkeepers to have been to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Other goalkeepers who have been to Afcon in the five times that Zimbabwe has been to the competition include Energy Murambadoro, Tapuwa Kapini, Ephraim Mazarura and Gift Muzadzi who went to the 2004 and 2006 finals.
In 2017 Donovan Bernard, Tatenda Mkuruva and Takabva Mawaya were the goalkeepers while George Chigova, Edmore Sibanda and Elvis Chipezeze were part of the team in 2019.