Harare: The minnows of Namibia must endure a World Cup baptism of fire and fear Monday as they take on Zimbabwe against a background of anticipated anti-government protests.
But they could find themselves in the eye of a storm. On Saturday, just 48 hours before the clash at the Harare Sports Club, a Zimbabwean coalition of Opposition groups claimed that 50 of its activists had been arrested.
Planned demonstrations failed to take off in the capital, but National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) spokesman Doulgas Mwonzora said another demonstration was planned for Monday .
Namibia’s state of mind would not have improved on hearing that on Saturday, three leading lawmakers from Zimbabwe’s main Opposition were arrested.
However, the Namibian team said they were determined to concentrate on the game.
“The Zimbabwe controversy has damaged the build-up to the World Cup but we have been determined to avoid all the fuss,” team manager Francois Erasmus said.
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak said his own team’s experiences tell him not to underestimate their opponents.
“We are treating this match exactly as if we were playing Pakistan or India,” said Streak.
“We have made a careful study of all their players and we are well prepared. We know we will have to play very good cricket to beat them. We are taking them very seriously as we have to.”
Zimbabwe: Heath Streak (captain), Andy Blignaut, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Ervine, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Travis Friend, Douglas Hondo, Doug Marillier, Brian Murphy, Henry Olonga, Tatenda Taibu, Mark Vermeulen, Guy Whittall, Craig Wishart.
Namibia: Deon Kotze (captain), Jan-Berry Burger, Louis Burger, Sarel Burger, Morne Karg, Danie Keulder, Bjorn Kotze, Lennie Louw, Gavin Murgatroyd, Gerrie Snyman, Stefan Swanepoel, Burton van Rooi, Melt van Scoor, Rudi van Vuuren, Riaan Walters. (AFP)