Botswana be Mobile Premiership side Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) midfielder Mandlaenkosi Sibanda has earned a first call-up for the Warriors squad that prepares for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations football qualifiers away to Burundi on February 29.
The list of the 24-man squad was released on Saturday, following Zifa’s clean-up of the Warriors closet that led to the suspension from national duty of all players and coaches fingered in the Asiagate scandal.
Sibanda earned his first call-up alongside former Gunners defender Arnold Chaka, another Zimbabwean based in Botswana who plays for Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
The lanky midfielder, known for brilliant passes, could have caught coach Rahman Gumbo’s eye while the mentor was in Botswana with Township Rollers and Chiefs. Last weekend he was the man behind demolition of FC Platinum (2-0) and Highlanders (2-1) at Mandava and Barbourfields stadiums in international friendly matches.
He joined BMC, who are currently position two on the log standings behind Madinda Ndlovu’s Centre Chiefs, from another Botswana side Ecco City last month.
Gumbo, who replaced Norman Mapeza, also axed from the national team for his alleged involvement in the Asia games, has also recalled Sundowns’ Esrom Nyandoro and Polish Legea Warsaw defender Dickson Choto to the squad that will have little time preparing for the match against Burundi.
Obert Moyo from Hwange, Godfrey Moyo from Motor Action and Caps United’s Tapiwa Khumbuyani are also first timers to the Warriors camp that also includes the Bulls captain and goalkeeper Marlon Jani and Dynamos’ George Chigova.
Abbas Amidu, who recently joined Kaizer Chiefs, comes back to town with veteran teammate Tinashe Nengomasha and they join other midfielders Archford Gutu (Sweden), Quincy Antipas (Denmark) and Dynamos’ Denver Mukamba.
Platinum Stars striker Terrence Mandaza also returns for another trial with the lethal Knowledge Musona, Dynamos’ Rodrick Mutuma, bustling FC Platinum forward Donald Ngoma and colleague Charles Sibanda, who fell out of favour with Mapeza last year.
The strikeforce also sees Musa Mguni who plays for Terek Grozny, make a return to the Warriors.
Cyprus-based Noel Kaseke, who had been sidelined due to injury, has made his way back into the squad together with Vusa Nyoni, based in Belgium.
Gumbo, who will be assisted by former Dynamos coach David Mandigora, has also shown faith in recovered Plymouth Argyle’s Onismor Bhasera and number one goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini.
Newly-appointed manager Nyika Chifamba yesterday said the squad would be grouping in two weeks’ time, giving the team insufficient time to prepare for the Burundi match, but he was confident a strong team would emerge.
“The boys will be meeting in two weeks. It’s unfortunate we are just coming in, but we are confident we have a strong team that will make it,” Chifamba said.
According to international rules, clubs have to release their players five days before any international match, but with this game falling during the week, Musona could become the frst casualty of club versus country row.
Goalkeepers: T Kapini (AmaZulu, SA), M Jani (Motor Action), G Chigova (Dynamos)
Defenders: T Khumbuyani (Caps United), N Kaseke (AC Omonia, Cyprus), O Bhasera (Plymouth Argyle, UK), G Moyo (Motor Action), D Choto (Legia Warsaw, Poland), O Moyo (Hwange), A Chaka (Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Botswana)
Midfielders: T Nengomasha, A Amidu (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), E Nyandoro (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA), V Nyoni (KFC Germinal Beerschot, Belgium), D Mukamba (Dynamos), A Gutu (KFF, Swe), Q Antipas (Sønderjyske, Den), M Sibanda (Botswana Meat Commission, Bots)
Strikers: T Mandaza (Platinum Stars, SA), R Mutuma (Dynamos), C Sibanda, D Ngoma (FC Platinum), K Musona (TSG Hoffeinheim, Ger), M Mguni (FC Terek Grozny, Rus)