Mamelodi Sundowns striker Nyasha Mushekwi gets another chance to rebuild his Warriors career this Saturday when the national team takes on Botswana in an international football friendly at the UB Stadium in Gaborone.
Mushekwi struggled in the Warriors’ unsuccessful 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers failing to score even a goal as Germany-based striker Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru and Willard Katsande took centre stage.
The Sundowns hitman is part of the 23-man released by Zifa yesterday for the Saturday match which excludes his teammate Method Mwanjali again. He has not been seeing action in South Africa of late.
All players are expected to assemble at Zifa House at 11am today. Mwanjali was dropped from the national team after his two blunders against Cape Verde last October saw the Warriors fail to qualify for the 2012 Afcon finals and also missed the November 15 international home friendly against South Africa where Musona hit a double in the 2-1 win.
Mushekwi is a regular at Sundowns and has hit the nets five times in 16 games for the Brazilians, but that form has not been transformed into national team colours and the sooner he starts scoring the better for coach Norman Mapeza ahead of the 2013 Afcon qualifiers which kick-off next month against Burundi.
Another striker, Edward Sadomba, recalled after a shoulder injury, is back in the team and will also relish the opportunity to finally hit the nets.
Mapeza has also included Ajax Cape Town’s Khama Billiat who is due to leave for Holland with his team after the match. The coach has provisionally included all Kaizer Chiefs players for the tie.
These are defenders Lincoln Zvasiya, Zhaimu Jambo, Thomas Sweswe and midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha, who are expected to be in the Chiefs team to play Ghana on January 12 in Johannesburg.
Zifa communications manager Nicky Dhlamini said yesterday: “We have communicated with Kaizer Chiefs on the players and we await their response. We are aware they have a game on January 12.”
On Billiat, the coach said the player had not indicated when he would be leaving for Holland.
Finally, there was space for the impressive AmaZulu duo of former footballer of the year Ramson Zhuwawo and right-back Carlington Nyadombo as Mapeza seeks to widen his squad for a crucial year which also sees the 2014 World Cup qualifiers beginning and a lengthy 2013 qualifying process.
From the local front, Dynamos goalkeeper Washington Arubi and teammates Denver Mukamba, Cuthbert Malajila and George Chigova, Daniel Vheremu and Joel Ngodzo from FC Platinum and Tapiwa Khumbuyani from Caps United have been called up.
Botswana Football Association vice-president Dintle Mphele confirmed to NewsDay Sport yesterday from Gaborone all was set for the game.
Botswana, who are camped in Rustenburg, South Africa, and beat Lesotho
3-0 on December 22, will jet back to Gaborone on Thursday — two days before the game.
“The match takes place at 1600hrs at the UB Stadium on January 7. All is set for the game,” he said.
Mapeza said they would give the Zebras all the respect.
“This is an international friendly and we are taking it seriously. Botswana have done very well in the last year and were recognised by Caf (Confederation of African Football) as one of the best teams.
“In the last three years or so, no one was even talking about Botswana . . . they were not even in existence, but have now qualified for the Afcon finals. It shows they have direction and know where they are going so we will give them the respect they deserve.
“They have chosen to play us because they believe we will give them the competition they need and we are ready to do that,” the coach said.
The Warriors will start camp at Bulawayo’s Rio Hotel today before departure on Friday morning by road on the 601km journey to Gaborone.
Goalkeepers: Tapuwa Kapini (AmaZulu, SA), Washington Arubi (Dynamos, Zim), George Chigova (Gunners, Zim)
Defenders: Tapiwa Khumbuyani (Caps United, Zim), Gilbert Mapemba (Moroka Swallows, SA), Zhaimu Jambo, Lincoln Zvasiya, Thomas Sweswe (all Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Vusa Nyoni (Germinal Beerschot, Bel), Daniel Vheremu (FC Platinum), Carlington Nyadombo (AmaZulu, SA)
Midfielders: Khama Billiat, Tafadzwa Rusike (Ajax Cape Town, SA), Ramson Zhuwawo (AmaZulu, SA), Willard Katsande, Tinashe Nengomasha (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Joel Ngodzo (FC Platinum), Denver Mukamba (Dynamos, Zim), Ovidy Karuru (US Boulogne, Fra)
Strikers: Knowledge Musona (Hoffenheim, Ger), Nyasha Mushekwi (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA), Edward Sadomba (Al Hilal, Sudan), Cuthbert Malajila (Dynamos, Zim)