AFCON Football: Choto doubtful

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Poland-based defender Dickson Choto is a major doubt for Wednesdays 2013 Africa Cup of Nations football qualifier away to Burundi after it emerged his club Legia Warszawa were reluctant to release the gangly defender.

Choto, one of the most experienced players in caretaker coach Rahman Gumbos squad, had been expected to jet into the country yesterday together with Russia-based Musa Mguni, but by late yesterday only the latter had arrived.

Team manager Nyika Chifamba confirmed that Choto had informed him of his clubs intention for their match today.

Legia Warszawa are in third place in the Ekstraklasa, the countrys top-flight league, on 33 points five points behind leaders Slask Wroclaw, who they are scheduled to meet today in a potentially decisive encounter.

Musa should be training with the rest of the squad tomorrow (today), but Dickson Choto has just informed me that his club had told him that they want to play him in their match tomorrow (today).

This means he would have to travel straight to Burundi if he is named in the squad tomorrow (today). We will sit as the technical department and make a decision, said Chifamba.

The injury-prone defender last featured in the 2006 Africa Nations Cup campaign. He was a member of the Warriors squad at the 2004 finals in Tunisia and played in the final match in which Zimbabwe beat Algeria 2-1. He is blessed with height and good physique for a defender, something that seems to be missing in Gumbos possible back four.

The absence of Choto could leave Gumbo with limited options in central defence, where he will be left with Motor Action defender Godfrey Moyo and Mochudi Centre Chiefs Arnold Chaka.

The other option would be to deploy Cyprus-based Noel Kaseke in an unfamiliar central defensive role from the usual rightback position which would then be filled by Tapiwa Khumbuyani.

The duo played in the Warriors training match against Motor Action yesterday at a soggy Rufaro.
The practice match, which the depleted Warriors training squad won 2-0, afforded Gumbo his first opportunity to assess his players in a game situation.

Gumbo also revealed that he had settled on his skipper for the Burundi match but said he would only be making the announcement today when he names the travelling 18-man squad.

Yes, we have decided on our captain for the tie but we will name him when we have finalised the squad tomorrow (today). We will name the final squad after our morning training session and it will determine which players will be joining us, said Gumbo, who reiterated the need for the Warriors to come out with a positive result in Bujumbura.

AmaZulu goalminder Tapuwa Kapini and Kaizer Chiefs midfield workhorse Tinashe Nengomasha, who is expected to feature for his club against Bidvest Wits today, are the favourites to take over the armband.

Veteran Mamelodi Sundowns linkman Esrom Nyandoro, who was expected to feature for Mamelodi Sundowns in their Absa Premiership match against Moroka Swallows last night, is another potential candidate.

Striker Terrence Mandaza, who turns out for South African Premiership side Platinum Stars, has been left out after his club said they could only release the player on Monday after fulfilling a league fixture tomorrow.

The Warriors, who were scheduled to attend a send-off ceremony last night at Zifa president Cuthbert Dubes offices, will leave tomorrow morning and are expected to arrive in Bujumbura the same day.