OVIDY Karuru has bounced back into the Warriors as Zimbabwe prepares for the Brazil 2014 football World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria at the end of the month after receiving a call-up to replace Simba Sithole, who was injured playing for his South African club Supersport United at the weekend.
Report by Tawanda Tafirenyika
Karuru, who plays for Belgian club OH Leauven, last featured for the Warriors in the 0-0 draw against Mozambique in a World Cup qualifier last year and has been ignored since then.
Rahman Gumbo, who was the coach at the time, publicly criticised the player for missing a clear chance, suggesting it was the reason the Warriors failed to collect all three points.
Karuru was subsequently left out of the 2013 African Cup of Nations home and away qualifiers against Angola, a move that was castigated by many football followers.
The former Gunners striker was also omitted as new coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels named the squad that played Botswana in an international friendly in January, but the highly-fancied player on the local scene maintained commitment to the Warriors’ cause and the German mentor finally heeded amplified calls to restore him into the squad.
Kaizer Chiefs forward Mathew Rusike, who is also out of the Egypt tie after sustaining a groin injury while on duty for his club, has been replaced by his namesake Ajax Cape Town midfielder Tafadzwa Rusike.
“Both players are injured and are out of the match against Egypt and we have since called up Ovidy Karuru to replace Simba Sithole,” said Pagels.
“Tafadzwa Rusike will replace Mathew Rusike. I can’t really say the injury to these players has affected my plan for this game because we have many players who are playing in these positions.”
Rusike’s injury came as a blow to the player, who was making only his fourth start and had received only his second international call-up after earning a first cap against Botswana where he created the first goal for Khama Billiat.
The clash against Egypt will be Pagels’ second match in charge of the Warriors since taking over from Gumbo.
The Warriors have just a single point from the campaign after falling to Guinea and stuttering to a 0-0 draw against Mozambique with Gumbo in charge.
And Pagels, who has been given the responsibility to build a new-look Warriors following the disappointing failure to qualify for the Nations Cup finals for the umpteenth time, believes the World Cup campaign is still alive. He insists though his target will be to lead the team to the 2015 Nations Cup finals, there is still a chance to rescue the 2014 World Cup campaign.