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Warriors Burundi dilemma

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The Warriors technical team, headed by Rahman Gumbo, might have just one day of training ahead of their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burundi set for February 29 as it falls on a Wednesday.

Under the Fifa calendar, February 29 is designated for international friendly matches and clubs can only release their players two days before the match.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf), are changing their finals from even to odd years so that they do not clash with the year of the Fifa World Cup, and will have the second finals in a row in South Africa next year.

Due to the lengthy qualification process for the South Africa tournament, Caf saw it fit to use the date to complete the first stage of the games.

A total of 47 countries entered the competition, including South Africa, which automatically qualified.

The remaining 46 teams will compete in the qualifiers. In each of the three rounds, teams will be drawn into two-legged home-and-away knock-out ties

Preliminary Round: The lowest-ranked four teams will start from the preliminary round.

First Round: The two winners of the preliminary round will join the other 26 teams which did not qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Second Round: The 14 winners of the first round will join the 16 teams which qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 15 winners of the second round will qualify for the finals.

For the Warriors, clubs will have their players on duty the same weekend and can only arrive in Zimbabwe on Sunday or Monday. The Warriors will not want to arrive in Burundi 24 hours before the match, meaning some players have to fly direct from their bases.

Team manager Nyika Chifamba will meet with his fellow technical members today to discuss the issue of travelling arrangements. Weekend reports had suggested that some players might not be available.

“We will discuss that tomorrow (today),” he said. What worsens the situation is that president Cuthbert Dube and his chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze will only be available tomorrow from Gabon, where they watched the Afcon final last night.

With the national association in the red on finances, Dube has the deep pockets to have the final say on the travelling itinerary.

Gumbo named a 24-man team which saw the return of Polish based Dickson Choto, former Mamelodi Sundowns skipper Esrom Nyandoro, Plymouth Argyle leftback Onismor Bhasera, Russia-based Musa Mguni and AC Omonia’s Noel Kaseke. Save for Nyandoro, all are regulars at their clubs.

Platinum Stars’ Terrence Mandaza, new Kaizer Chiefs signing Abbas Amidu, Arnold Chaka from Mochudi Centre Chiefs of Botswana and Mandla Sibanda of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) have also received call ups.

As expected, there was plenty of space for local players with two goalkeepers Marlon Jani and George Chigova hoping to get the second slot after Tapuwa Kapini and overtake the suspended Washington Arubi.

Rodreck Mutuma, Zimbabwe’s top goalscorer last season, Denver Mukamba and Tapiwa Khumbuyani of Caps United are in the team with Charles Sibanda and Donald Ngoma from FC Platinum.

Regulars Knowledge Musona, likely captain Tinashe Nengomasha and Vusa Nyoni return while Quincy Antipas and Archford Gutu will aim to finally claim starting places in Gumbo’s team.

Squad

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, Russia)

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