The Warriors leave for Zambia on Thursday, hard-pressed to defend the regional competition which they have also won a record four times.
They play their first game against Malawi on Saturday. With his squad under the spotlight to emulate the sides of 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009, Pagels has moved in to lower expectations on his team.
“The problem is that people, especially the media expect this team to play like past teams that have won the Cosafa,” Pagels briefed the media after Tuesday’s morning training session in Harare.
“It is important to understand that this is a new team which is far different from those before. This is a new era where a lot of things have changed. Even our opponents have new teams so we cannot expect the same old things.”
The current team has no player who was part of the team that won the Cup home soil in 2009. The Class of 2009 included Swedish-based midfielder Archford Gutu and the Mamelodi Sundowns trio of Nyasha Mushekwi, Cuthbert Malajila and defender Method Mwanjali.
Ajax Cape Town midfielder Tafadzwa Rusike was also part of that group. Pagels, however believes his charges are in good shape to defend Cosafa.
“We will do our best in Zambia. I am impressed that the players have been responding well to our methods. They are in good shape. We have a good team that will fight to the end. My assistant (Lloyd Mutasa) knows Malawi well so there is no problem in scheming against them,” he added.
It would be the second time in as many months for Zimbabwe and Malawi to clashes following the one-all draw in an international friendly match in Blantyre on Africa Day. Mutasa was the coach in Malawi as Pagels was in South Africa on private business.
Zimbabwe PSL leading goal-scorer Tendai Ndoro received his debut national team call-up together with Black Rhinos forward Lot Chungwa.
The Cosafa Cup is likely to be Pagels’ last tournament in charge of the Warriors as Zifa have not yet renewed his contract which expires on 31 July.
Goalkeepers: Tafadzwa Dube (Caps United), Maxwell Nyamupanedengu
(Harare City), Munyaradzi Diya (Highlanders)
Defenders: Felix Chindungwe (Chicken Inn), Ocean Mushure (Dynamos),
Erick Chipeta (Hwange),Prosper Matizanadzo (Buffaloes), Nicholas Guyo
(Monomotapa), Hardlife Zvirekwi (Caps United)
Midfielders: Masimba Mambare (captain) (Highlanders), Devon Chafa
(Dynamos), Charles Sibanda, Ali Sadiki (both FC Platinum), Silas
Songani (Harare City), Nicholas Alifandika (Harare City), Ronald
Strikers: Last Chibwiro (Black Mambas), Simba Sithole (How Mine)
Tendai Ndoro (Chicken Inn), Lot Chungwa (Black Rhinos)