Warriors schedule takes centre stage

Young Warriors subs desk.

THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) is set to go for a two-week break to make way for the Warriors’ international assignments with coach Kalisto Pasuwa expected to name his Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers squad this week.

By Munyaradzi Madzokere

He is also expected to name the local-based side for the African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers which commence this month as well.

Zimbabwe begin their bid to qualify for the 2017 Afcon to be hosted by Gabon with a short trip to Malawi on June 13 before engaging the Comoros Islands on June 20 for the first leg of the Chan qualifiers with the second leg slated for July 3-5.

The 2016 Chan finals will be played in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) communications officer Xolisani Gwesela admitted that time was not on the national team’s side to start preparations for their international engagements.

“We understand that time is fast running out, but I can confirm that the coach will announce his squad for the Afcon match as well as the Chan qualifiers later this week so that preparations can get underway,” said Gwesela.

Interestingly, Zimbabwe’s opponents in the Afcon qualifiers Malawi announced their squad back in April a development that raises questions about Zifa’s seriousness over making a first appearance at the premier continental football showpiece since 2006.

The Flames of Malawi are currently ranked 27th in Africa, nine places above Zimbabwe, and are clearly no pushovers after they gave West African giants Mali a run for their money in the 2015 Afcon qualifiers.

Pasuwa would not have asked for a better period to take his first Warriors assignment with some European leagues already into the summer break and he would normally have all his desired players available.

Quincy Antipas, Knowledge Musona, Dzikamai Gwaze, Macauley Bonne, Marvelous Nakamba, Silas Songani and Tendayi Darikwa will be available for this assignmnent.

Swedish football is ongoing with Nyasha Mushekwi and Archford Gutu unavailable for selection. Commenting on the issue of the foreign-based players, Gwesela said:

“The job of picking the national team players lies solely with the coach. Zifa will not pick a team for the coach and we are just waiting to see who he will include in the team then we can support him and his selection.”

Although the technical team led by Pasuwa is yet to announce the teams to do battle on both fronts for Zimbabwe, only nine days before the crucial encounter against Malawi, the PSL has already put its full weight behind the Warriors by way of a league break.

“We will go for a two-week break to allow for the June international matches for our beloved Warriors as you know that we play Malawi on June 13 and then play Comoros Islands for the Chan qualifiers on June 20,” said PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele.

“This is not a mid-season break, but it’s a gesture just to allow the national team coach to have all the players available because the Chan squad is made up of locally-based players. League matches will return after the first leg, then we take another break for the second leg of the Chan qualifiers set for the weekend of July 5,” he added.