Warriors defender Costa Nhamoinesu has been ruled out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) football qualifier against Liberia early next month after he sustained a muscle injury.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Nhamoinesu was part of the foreign-based contingent that coach Norman Mapeza wanted for the match, which will be played at the National Sports Stadium on June 11.
Zifa has already sent out communication to foreign clubs over the call-up for the players ahead of the important qualifier.
Nhamoinesu’s employers, Sparta Prague, this week wrote to Zifa informing them that the defender was on an injury-inspired layoff and would not be fully recovered by the time the Warriors play Liberia.
Team manager Wellington Mupandare confirmed they had received communication that Nhamoinesu was nursing a long-term injury.
“Sparta Prague sent us a medical report confirming that Costa is nursing a long-term left thigh muscle injury, which effectively rules him out of the next national team match,” Mupandare said.
“He has been injured for a while now, so the coaches will look at the other options available to them. We are pursuing all the foreign-based players that the coaches have asked for.”
Nhamoinesu was injured in his team’s 3-1 league match defeat to Jablonec on February 26.
Since then, he has missed 10 league matches and his team will only play Europa League football next season, as they can no longer finish in the two Uefa Champions league places.
With the tall defender having been involved in the 2017 Afcon finals staged in Gabon between January and February, coupled with the injury setback, he has only managed 16 appearances for his club in the league.
He is one of the players whom Mapeza had picked from the Kalisto Pasuwa era.
But one player likely to miss out in the Mapeza revolution is Dynamos defender Elisha Muroiwa who under Pasuwa was Nhamoinesu’s central defensive partner.
Muroiwa, who is set to leave Dynamos next month for Tanzania, could fall by the wayside and his teammate Lincoln Zvasiya could be recalled.
Caps United defender and captain Hardlife Zvirekwi could be another victim, as Mapeza has almost convinced Burnley defender Tendayi Darikwa to come and play for the Warriors.
Darikwa has since promised the technical team that he will be travelling to Zimbabwe on June 3 ahead of the Liberia match.
Zifa has already started making arrangements for the player’s air ticket together with that of Macauley Bonne, who has also agreed to join camp for the Liberia match.
Striker Mathew Rusike has hit top form since his move to Tunisia’s Club Africain and he, too, will be looking to retain his place in the Warriors fold, having played at the 2017 Afcon finals.
Zimbabwe are in Group G together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and Liberia.
Mapeza’s men will only play one qualifier this year against Liberia and their next match, which is an away tie against Congo-Brazzaville, will be played on March 23 next year.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were last night drawn in Group B with Mozambique, Seychelles and Madagascar for the Cosafa Castle Cup qualifiers. Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius and Angola were drawn in Group A.
Only top sides from each group will proceed to the Cosafa Castle Cup quarter-finals. The Cosafa Castle Cup will be held in South Africa’s North West province between June 25 and July 9.
South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia and Lesotho are already in the quarter-finals.
Cosafa Castle Cup Group Stage Draw
Group A: Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius, Angola
Group B: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Seychelles, Madagascar