HARARE (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - Zimbabwe will be looking to return to the FIBA AfroBasket when they take on South Africa in a two-game playoff qualifier in Johannesburg in April.
Early this month, Zimbabwe lost to Mozambique over two legs in Harare to finish second from the Zone 6 Group H qualifiers and will meet South Africa who finished second at the just concluded Zone 6 Group G qualifiers in Lusaka with a better head-to-head over hosts Zambia.
Zimbabwe captain Taurai Lawrence Chitsinde told FIBA.com: "We are blessed with the opportunity to play in the playoff game for that spot. We have great respect for how they play their basketball.
"We respect how invested they are as a nation. We respect their players whom we get to watch on television. They are a good side, us playing them presents an equal opportunity to compete at their level and/or preferably better to come out top thus qualifying for Congo. We are capable of holding our own."
Emmanuel Mukandi's side will have to come to terms with the fact that they will be playing away from home. Chitsinde admitted that it definitely gives the Proteas an advantage.
"Certainly, in all sports, they call it home court 'advantage'. It has its pros," Chitsende said.
According to Chitsinde, the experience Zimbabwe attained from the FIBA AfroBasket 2015 will definitely come in handy to help them overcome South Africa.
"Poise. Composure. We have not been at that kind of platform like ever so there was a lot of adrenaline involved in 2015. We had a chance to see how things are done at that level, approach most importantly. We are not the same anymore to that experience."
The winner between Zimbabwe and South Africa will join Angola, Cameroon, the hosts Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, reigning champions Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda.
The other two slots will be determined via a wild card process to complete the 16-team lineup that will battle for the coveted trophy in the summer.