WARRIORS forwards Khama Billiat and Mathew Rusike have been ruled out of the trip to Guinea for the 2014 World Cup qualifier at the weekend due to injuries.
Report by Tawanda Tafirenyika
The duo sat out yesterday’s training session with muscle problems. Chief striker Knowledge Musona also did not take part in the morning training session, but Warriors coach Klaus Dieter Pagels said Musona had a slight problem before the match on Sunday and would be fit for the clash against Guinea.
Musona scored Zimbabwe’s first goal as they went down 4-2 to Egypt at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The German coach replaced the injured pair with Highlanders forward Masimba Mambare and Hwange defender Eric Chipeta. Pagels said Billiat and Rusike would return to South Africa where they will have proper treatment.
Chipeta and Mambare had failed to make the cut for the 18-men squad that lost 4-2 to Egypt on Sunday. But the two players — the only changes to the 18 man squad picked for the match against Egypt so far will now make the trip to Conakry — providing a window of opportunity for them to make a case for their inclusion in the team.
Pagels has kept faith in the squad he picked for the clash against the Pharaohs and revealed he would only make further changes to the squad if there were injuries to the team before they leave for Guinea. This means players like defender Nicholas Guyo, goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi, Abbas Amidu and Ronald Chitiyo will be dropped from the travelling squad.
Pagels, however, maintained his project to build a strong team that will compete at the 2015 African Cup of Nations finals is on the right track despite his side suffering back-to-back defeats by Egypt in competitive matches the German coach has presided over since his appointment to the hot seat last year.
“I think it doesn’t matter about this defeat on Sunday. We are on a rebuilding process. We need time. You cannot expect a lot from these guys now. If we can have ten more matches at this level, I think they will be fine. For the future they are really a good team, but we need time.
“I saw Felix Chindungwe in Zambia, he played very well, but when he came back home he was nervous before the crowd and he made mistakes. But they have to learn, They have to learn not only to play football on the pitch, but have to learn to manage situations around you,” Pagels said.
The Warriors coach also said he was looking forward to a victory over Guinea. He said they were not going to Guinea with the mentality of just improving themselves in their rebuilding process, but to win the contest.
“We don’t want to continue to tell people we are rebuilding and we go there just to improve a little bit. No, we want to win every match so we have to concentrate and avoid the mistakes we made against Egypt,” said Pagels.
Guinea, who are placed second on the table in their group with seven points — five adrift of leaders Egypt, defeated Mozambique 6-1 at the weekend. They had been held to a 0-0 draw in Maputo.
Arrangements are still being made for the trip and the national team could see themselves leaving today or tomorrow for war-torn Conakry.
With Fifa having approved the use of the main stadium in the capital for the match despite security concerns after clashes left over 50 people dead, Zimbabwe has no excuse but to make the trip.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze was not available to comment yesterday on the Warriors’ travelling arrangements.