Exactly a year after he helped set the COSAFA Cup 2017 competition ablaze, speedy Zimbabwe winger Talent Chawapiwa is ready to dazzle for the Warriors again and inspire them to another success story in Southern Africa’s flagship tournament.
Zimbabwe, who arrived in Polokwane on Thursday night will begin their title defence on Sunday night with a quarter-final clash against Group B winners Botswana at the Peter Mokaba stadium.
The Zebras were too strong for Mauritius, hammering the Indian Ocean islanders 6-0 in their final group game to take their points tally to seven and three more than runners-up Angola who could only draw 0-0 against bottom-placed Malawi.
Chawapiwa was one of the stand-out players for the Warriors during last year’s competition in South Africa’s North West province with his fine showing earning him a move from reigning Zimbabwe Premiership champions FC Platinum to South African top-flight outfit Baroka.
Now a year later, Chawapiwa believes he returns to the COSAFA Cup show an even more mature player and even declared that the Warriors are a stronger side this year and reckons the title is theirs to lose.
“We need to defend the trophy, we did well last year and now we come back with an even stronger squad so we must do better and there will be no excuses for not winning the trophy again.
“Whenever you are given an opportunity as a player you just have to do well because you never know where you will end up playing… Baroka spotted me while I was playing in this competition and I have been telling some of my teammates to just do their best,’’ Chawapiwa said.
With Baroka being one of the two ABSA Premiership clubs based in this year’s COSAFA host city, the other being goalkeeper George Chigova’s Polokwane City, Chawapiwa believes the venue of the matches – Peter Mokaba provides an added advantage for them.
“It is very inspiring for me that I am coming to play this tournament in familiar territory. I will be very much at home here in Polokwane and that eases the pressure on me, jsu getting the noise of those vuvuzelas on our side,’’ Chawapiwa said.
He also declared the Warriors ready to face the Botswana challenge after the Zebras secured the Group B ticket to the quarter-finals.
“I have watched Botswana’s games in the group, they are doing well and which means the competition at the tournament will be much tougher this year but we have also come back a stronger team and we are ready for them and any other team.
“Personally, I have learnt a lot from my first season with Baroka and I think I can express myself better and I believe I can improve from last year for both club and country,’’ Chawapiwa said.