Young Warriors crisis deepens

Young Warriors subs desk.

YOUNG Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa has described the situation in camp as a crisis with a number of key players yet to join the team just two days before the crucial Under-23 African Championships first leg qualifier against Swaziland at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.


Vice-captain Ronald Pfumbidzai, England-based Macauley Bonne, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Walter Musona, Blessing Moyo and Tatenda Mukuruva did not take part in the team’s morning training session at the match venue yesterday.

Pfumbidzai, who is on trials in Denmark, Bonne and Musona have all been confirmed out of the match, while Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mahachi arrived in the country earlier this week, but was still holed up in his hometown Bulawayo due to family commitments. He was, however, expected in the capital last night.

Moyo and Mukuruva were withdrawn by their club Dynamos, leaving Pasuwa to work with only 17 players including one goalkeeper, Takabva Mawaya, of Hwange, who also arrived yesterday.

The team had been training without a goalkeeper.

Pasuwa yesterday tried in vain to rope in Caps United goalkeeper Chris Mverechena and was now contemplating on recalling goalkeeper Bernard Donovan who is away in South Africa with the Warriors at the Cosafa Championships.

It’s highly unlikely though that the bid would succeed as Donovan is already registered for the tournament.

Only five defenders trained with the team yesterday with Flame Lily’s Edwin Madhananga called up to replace Pfumbidzai.

Lawrence Mhlanga and captain Wisdom Mutasa are carrying knocks although they were both heavily involved yesterday.

Assistant coach Nation Dube was yet to report for camp with indications that his club Hwange had refused to release him for the match, leaving Pasuwa to work with a fitness trainer.

Asked to describe the situation in camp, Pasuwa said: “This is a crisis. We were training with a makeshift defence and it’s very dangerous at this level of competition. Previously, I had no problems at the back because I would have all defenders whom I would have requested for camp and we managed to get good results, but this time, it’s the opposite. I have offensive players, but no defenders and goalkeepers. That is the most delicate area in a team that doesn’t need continuous changes.”

The situation was most dire in the goal-keeping department where only Mawaya was available and he was barely involved in the training session because the technical department did not want to risk an injury.

“We couldn’t risk him. He is the only goalkeeper here and if he gets injured, I will be in trouble. I will end up in goals myself,” Pasuwa said.
The former Dynamos coach is wary of Swaziland.

“Swaziland pulled out of the All-Africa Games qualifier with the realisation of wanting to play in these Olympic qualifiers,” he said.

”They have been in camp for three months now preparing for this match. They have been in camp for a long time so we will be facing a very organised team. It’s going to be a very tough match. We shouldn’t underrate them. We need everybody to come on board to motivate the boys. We need a result here ahead of the second leg.”

Swaziland is expected in the country tomorrow afternoon. The squad’s head of delegation, Sonnyboy Mabuza, confirmed their trip yesterday.

If the Young Warriors go through, they will face South Africa before the third and final qualifying round where West African giants Senegal lie in wait.

Third round winners proceed with hosts Democratic Republic of Congo to the December 5 to 19 2015 finals, from where the top-three finishers will automatically qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, while the fourth-placed team will engage a team from the Asian Football Confederation in a play-off.

Young Warriors squad:

Takabva Mawaya, Munyaradzi Dironyenye, Edwin Madhananga, Lawrence Mhlanga, Liberty Chakoroma, Teenage Hadebe, Gerald Takwara, Nqobizitha Masuku, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Wisdom Mutasa, Jimmy Kanono, Tinotenda Muskwe, Tinotenda Kadewere, Mqcini Sibanda, Thomas Chideu, Malvin Gaki, Emmanuel Mandiranga.