Midfielder Khama Billiat has been ruled out of Zimbabwe’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Guinea at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday as coach Rahman Gumbo called up former Warriors captain Esrom Nyandoro into camp.
Nyandoro did not feature on the Zifa’s foreign-based list of players that were expected for the match, neither was he on the initial list announced by Gumbo when he named his squad last month.
Nevertheless, it emerged yesterday that the veteran Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder has been included into the squad.
Nyandoro arrived in the country yesterday afternoon from South Africa and was expected to join the rest of the squad this morning. Also making his way into the squad is Caps United defender David Maketo Sengu.
Gumbo yesterday explained the pair’s last minute inclusion.
“Esrom’s commitment to the national team is unquestionable. You can’t question it, can you? His experience is needed in such games, but I did not say he will get an automatic place in the team.
Everyone will have to fight for his place,” said Gumbo after the team’s morning training session at the match venue yesterday.
On Maketo’s inclusion, an addition to the 16 local players who were already in camp, Gumbo said, “The Cosafa tournament is coming up so I want to get them used to the national team system.”
However, the Warriors have been dealt a massive blow ahead of the match after Billiat failed to recover from an ankle injury.
The Ajax Cape Town slippery winger picked the injury while playing for his South African side in an Absa Premiership league match against Kaizer Chiefs earlier this month. He went on to play two more league matches against Golden Arrows and Black Leopards after an injection.
Warriors team doctor Nicholas Munyonga, who assessed the player before announcing the depressing news at the team’s morning training session said the extra games Khama played could have aggravated the injury.
Billiat watched the session from the sidelines and had his ankle wrapped in bandages.
“When I looked at it (ankle), it looked quite inflated and after assessing it there is no way he can play.
He needs at least four days to rest to fully recover so for this week there is no chance,” said Munyonga.
Munyonga expects Khama to be available for the Warriors’ next assignment against Mozambique in the same qualifiers away to Maputo on June 10.
“He got the injury on May 9 and if he had rested, probably it could not have been worse but he played two games afterwards. That probably exacerbated the injury. The best bet is he could play against Mozambique. We have a situation where he can play on Sunday and then miss the next two matches,” added Munyonga.
Gumbo, who now has 31 players, looked at ease as he took the players through some drills at the match venue.
The FC Platinum coach said he was not worried much about Billiat’s absence for the crucial match.
“Khama is injured and we are not taking any risk. We have to get a fitter Khama so maybe he will be back against Mozambique.
But I have more than 28 players in camp so if someone gets injured I have replacements,” said Gumbo.