Warriors finally leave

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The Warriors finally leave this morning for their international friendly against Botswana, but with only three foreign-based players, following the refusal by clubs in South Africa, mainly Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu, to release their players.

By last night, only 15 players were available from the envisaged 18, but — at least — the journey had been confirmed.

“The team leaves tomorrow morning and will travel straight to Gaborone without camping in Bulawayo,” Zifa communications manager Nicky Dhlamini said last night. Defenders Thomas Sweswe, Lincoln Zvasiya and Zhaimu Jambo, and midfielders Tinashe Nengomasha and Willard Katsande, will play no part in Botswana’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations preparatory match.

This followed Ajax Cape Town’s withdrawal of Khama Billiat and Tafadzwa Rusike on Tuesday and the unavailability of Sudan-based Edward Sadomba.

The AmaZulu trio of goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, Carlington Nyadombo and Ramson Zhuwawo were also barred from taking part in the match while Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows agreed to release their players.

Simba Sithole of Sundowns is available, but teammate Nyasha Mushekwi — according to Dhlamini — cannot be located. Oscar Machapa and Gilbert Mapemba from Swallows will provide the international experience needed in the match. Vusa Nyoni, who plays in Belgium for Germinal Beerschot, is understood to be in Bulawayo on holiday.

Warriors manager for the trip Wellington Mpandare said yesterday: “Chiefs have withdrawn their players, but we have called in replacements at least to make the 18 players we want to travel with.”

Dynamos’ Rodreck Mutuma was called up after it also emerged chief striker Knowledge Musona, who plays in Germany, and France-based Ovidy Karuru had returned to their bases.

Milton Makopa and Guthrie Zhokinyi from Dynamos and the FC Platinum pair of Qadr Amin and Charles Sibanda have also been roped in.

The trip had been in serious doubt in the last two days due to the unavailability of funds to pay for road transport to Gaborone — feeling the absence of Zifa president Cuthbert Dube.

Dube is on holiday outside the country and is only due back on Saturday afternoon-the day of the match at the UB Stadium in Gaborone.

He has, on numerous occasions, bailed out national teams travelling for foreign assignments using personal resources, although that has attracted criticism.

His lieutenant, chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze has apparently “fled” the mess and is unreachable amid claims he lost his mobile phone.

In his absence, chief operations officer Joseph Mamutse has been running around, having a series of meetings with the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture officials in a bid to secure funding.

While independent confirmation of figures involved could not be obtained, sources last night said transport alone would gobble $8 300 and more would be needed for allowances for players and technical team.

Coach Norman Mapeza will use the match to gauge performances of players like Machapa, Sithole and locals who did not feature in the failed 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, to prepare for the 2013 games.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi, George Chigova
Defenders: Tapiwa Khumbuyani, Gilbert Mapemba, Daniel Vheremu, Guthrie Zhokinyi, Qadr Amin
Midfielders: Milton Makopa, Denver Mukamba, Joel Ngodzo, Oscar Machapa
Strikers: Cuthbert Malajila, Charles Sibanda, Rodreck Mutuma, Simba Sithole