Zimbabwe’s Under 23 soccer team’s preparations for the All Africa qualifier match against Young Chipolopolo of Zambia received a major blow Sunday with Joel Ngodzo set to miss the crucial game because the young sensation is on trials with a South African premiership side Vasco Da Gama.
The Young Warriors play Young Chipolopolo on Sunday in Lusaka with the reverse fixture set for Harare two weeks later.
Ngodzo left for South Africa on Saturday. The team is set to regroup today.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare said: “I spoke to Ngodzo and he said he is going to South Africa for trials. I tried to convince him to stay and even spoke to his club Highlanders but he insisted that it was a rare opportunity and he couldn’t let it go.”
Mpandare added: “He is a good player and we would have wanted him to play but at the moment we are not sure if he will make the trip. It’s a big blow for the team and the country but there is nothing we can do but I believe we have other capable players in the team who can do well.”
Mpandare also revealed that two players, Passmore Bernard and Osbourne Mukuradare are struggling to get their travelling documents and are also set to miss the trip.
The latest setback for the team come on the heels of another after three players were axed from the squad after it emerged that they were over-aged.
Chris Samakweri, who plays for Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe, Kiglon’s Maxwell Nyamupanedengu and Monomotapa defender Brian Mapfumo were last week scrapped off the team after they were found to be over aged.
Dynamos defender Khumbulani Banda has also excused himself from the squad as he is attending to some family problems. Teammate Prince Mbara has replaced him while Monomotapa’s Artwell Mukandi replaced Nyamupanedengu.
The Young Warriors’ problems started the first day the team trooped into camp with all the players refusing to stay at the Zifa village because they felt the place was not appropriate.
Instead, the players opted to come to training from their homes. As if that was not enough, the foreign based quartet of Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru, Tafadzwa Rusike and Khama Billiart, who were named in the squad pulled out because of club commitments.
Kiglon’s Devon Chafa, Raphael Madamombe of Monomotapa, Lengthens captain Stephen Matsangaise have been called up as replacements. Mpandare, nonetheless said he was happy that Jomo Cosmos- bound striker Mathew Rusike confirmed he would be available for the Zambia tie. T
he player flew out of the country last week to finalise his contract details with the Jomo Sono owned side and is expected to join the rest of the squad today.
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), George Chigova (Aces Youth Academy), Liberty Chirova (Bantu Rovers) Artwell Mukandi (Monomotapa)
Defenders: Lincoln Zvasiya (Monomotapa), Knowledge Machona (Eagles), Qadr Amini (Gunners), Stephen Matsangaise (Lengthens), Passmore Bernard (Motor Action), Augustine Mbara (Dynamos), Obey Mwerahari (Eagles), Charles Mutero (Shooting Stars), Edwin Nkomo (Bantu Rovers)
Midfielders: Rahman Kutsanzira, Joel Ngodzo (Highlanders), Tsepo Rantokoane (Eagles), Cliff Sekete (Gunners), Abbas Amidu (Black Mambas), Denver Mukamba (Kiglon), Timire Mamvura (Dynamos), Tapiwa Mangezi (Gunners), Isaac Madziva (Black Mambas), Archieford Gutu (Dynamos), Devon Chafa (Kiglon), Raphael Madamombe (Monomotapa).
Strikers: Malvern Dumbura (Eagles), Tawanda Ushe (Motor Action), Mathew Rusike (Pretoria University), Osborne Mukuradare (Monomotapa), Simba Sithole (Shooting Stars).