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Locals for All-Africa Games qualifier

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Zimbabwe’s Under 23 coach Friday Phiri has said he is no longer desperate to have the foreign-based players for the all-important Zone IV All-Africa Games qualifier second leg match against the Young Chipolopolo of Zambia scheduled for January 22.

The Young Warriors cruised to a 2-3 away victory in the hostile environment of the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka last Saturday and now have the upper hand going into the second and crucial second leg tie.

Highly-rated striker Simba Sithole scored a brace and Denver Mukamba scored the third goal as the Phiri-coached side outfoxed the more illustrious Young Chipolopolo who had seven of their foreign-based players in the first eleven.

However, the Young Warriors, composed of only local-based players put up a flawless performance and if they can produce half of that performance in two weeks’ time, then the Zambians will be in deep trouble. Jomo Cosmos bound Mathew Rusike was the only foreign-based player in the squad but did not play in the match.

The Young Chipolopolo has a big mountain ahead of them as they will need to score at least two clear goals for them to advance to the next stage of the competition.

There have been calls for the Young Warriors technical team to beef up the squad so as to finish off the Zambians when they visit Rufaro.

Zimbabwe has Kaizer Chiefs hotshot Knowledge Musona and the Ajax Cape Town duo of Tafadzwa Rusike and Kama Billiart who can be valuable additions to the squad but Phiri has said he can do the job without the trio.

“We used local guys in Zambia and they played extremely well,” said Phiri yesterday. “We were very pleased with their performance and we are confident they are capable of finishing off the job. But we are not closing doors to the foreign-based players, if they are available then it will be a bonus for us, but we are not desperate for them for this game. We might need their services as we progress in the competition,” added Phiri.

Musona, Rusike, Billiart and France-based Ovidy Karuru were all called up by the Young Warriors technical team for the first leg match in Lusaka but snubbed the call due to club commitments. The Under 23 squad will go into camp on Sunday.

Meanwhile, under-fire Young Chipolopolo coach Lucky Msiska has reinforced his squad ahead of the crucial tie.

According to media reports from Zambia, Msiska has added five players, Christopher Munthali of Konkola Blade, Evans Kangwa of Nkana, Evans Musonda of Red Arrows, White Mwanambao and Aullin Pepa.

Zambia has also organised a friendly match against African club champions TP Mazembe as they intensify their preparations for the match.

The Young Chipolopolo will travel to the DRC on Sunday.

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