Kaizer Chiefs star striker Knowledge Musona and France-based Ovidy Karuru will not be available for Under-23 clash against Zambia on January 8 in the All-Africa Games qualifiers next month due to league and cup commitments in their respective countries.
In addition, the Ajax Cape Town duo of Tafadzwa Rusike and Khama Billiat will also not be available for the tie as the second half of the South Africa Absa Premiership will be beginning on the same weekend.
Worse for coach Friday Phiri, the qualifiers are not on the Fifa calendar and clubs are not obliged to release their players.
Musona, the biggest loss in the qualifier, and Karuru were called up for the January 8 game, but the fixtures in both countries reveal they will be tied up in league and cup games.
The first leg is set for Lusaka on January 8 with the return leg in Harare two weeks later. In an attempt to take advantage of the Absa Premiership’s Christmas break, the Under-23 technical department had included Musona along with the duo of Rusike and Billiat.
The Absa Premiership was involved in their last games yesterday before the Christmas break and will resume the second half of the season on the same day that Zimbabwe plays Zambia. Chiefs play Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium while Ajax face AmaZulu at Ulundi Stadium.
Karuru’s French Ligue 2 side Boulogne plays Amiens SC in the Coupe de France on January 8, leaving Phiri to make do with local players only. Six of the players who did duty for Zimbabwe at the recent Cosafa Under-20 Championships have been included.
Goalkeeper George Chigova is joined by defenders Knowledge Machona, Lincoln Zvasiya and Edwin Nkomo, along with forwards Simba Sithole and Denver Mukamba.
Other notable inclusions are rising star Joel Ngodzo of Highlanders, Gunners left back Qadr Amini, the Dynamos pair of Timire Mamvura and Archieford Gutu, Motor Action right back Passmore Mamvura and Black Mambas midfielder Isaac Madziva.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s preparations for their Maputo 2011 All-Africa Games qualifier against the Young Warriors of Zimbabwe hit a snag on Monday when six players failed to turn out for a training camp.
According to reports from Lusaka, Under-23 national soccer team coach Lucky Msiska is disappointed with Zesco United players who have not reported for camp for the January 8 first leg. The four players from Zesco who are yet to report for camp since playing in the 3-1 win season-closing win over Nkwazi are John Chingandu, Chakwa Lungu, Kangwa Chileshe and Innocent Mwaba.
Others still being awaited are Under-20 starlets Lewis Macha and Felix Nyaenda both of whom were given permission to stay away from camp after participating in the Sadc Under-20 games.
Msiska said players needed to have pride to wear national colours and wondered why the Zesco quartet had opted to stay away from camp without official explanation.
Msiska is expected to trim the squad on Thursday before giving the team a five-day Christmas break before resuming training on December 28 for the final leg of preparations for the visit of the Young Warriors.