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Mapeza’s Chosen Ones

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FORMER Warriors captain, Willard Katsande and three other senior players, Nyasha Mushekwi, Matthew Rusike and Cuthbert Malajila, have been left out of the provisional squad announced by interim coach Norman Mapeza yesterday, ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, which begin early next month.

BY HENRY MHARA

Norman Mapeza
Norman Mapeza

Zimbabwe begin their bid for a fourth appearance at the continental football showpiece with a home date against tricky West Africans, Liberia, at the National Sports Stadium on June 11.

Efforts are still being made to bring in England-born Burnley defender, Tendai Darikwa, into the Warriors fold and hopes are high he could finally feature for Zimbabwe.

Announcing the 25-member squad to go into camp on Monday at the Zifa offices yesterday, Warriors manager, Wellington Mupandare, said this was not the final team, as they were still working on getting other foreign-based players.

“The 25 players that I am going to announce are not the final team. We are still working on the other players, especially from England like Tendai Darikwa, he might still make it,” he said.

Mupandare gave an update on a number of England-based players that Zifa has been courting in the past couple of weeks.

“The person, who is representing me in England, will have a meeting with Darikwa and his father tomorrow (today),” he said.

“I wrote to the club and there is no problem with him. Same with (Brendan) Galloway, his club have no problem with us using him, but he has not been forthcoming because I don’t have his direct number.

“Macauley Bonne is definitely not coming because he had booked his holiday, but I don’t know what he heard about Zimbabwe, because he said he can come to South Africa, play Cosafa and go back to England, he does not want to come here.

“Leeroy Benyu is willing, I had a chat with his father and we are just waiting to clarify a few issues.”

The new technical department, led by Mapeza, retained the core of the team that represented the country at Gabon 2017.

Kaizer Chiefs vice-captain, Katsande, who led the team at the Afcon finals, was the biggest casualty.

It is understood that Katsande, China-based Mushekwi, Rusike and Malajila were axed for leading a mutiny that embarrassed Zifa when they snubbed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the eve of the team’s departure for Gabon in January.

Czech Republic-based Costa Nhamoinesu has also been left out of the team because of an injury, while there is no room for Elisha Muroiwa, Tino Kadewere, Tatenda Mukuruva, Bruce Kangwa and Lawrence Mhlanga.

Khama Billiat has made himself available for the Liberia match, as he continues to nurse a minor injury
The return of Mapeza into the Warriors fold has resurrected the national team careers of former livewire winger, Ovidy Karuru, the forgotten Thabani Kamusoko, FC Platinum’s Partson Jaure as well as Ajax Cape Town defender, Eric Chipeta.

There was a debut call-up for Premier Soccer League surprise package, Black Rhinos defender, James Mukombwe, after a sterling start to the season, as well as FC Platinum midfielder, Simon Shoko.

Champions Caps United contributed the biggest number of players to the preliminary squad with four in goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, defender, Dennis Dauda and midfielders, Devon Chafa and Ronald Chitiyo.

Mapeza’s men were thrown into Group G together with the continent’s sixth-ranked side, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, ranked 17th, and Liberia, on 28, in a qualifying draw conducted in Libreville, Gabon, early this year.

Only group winners and the best three runners-up qualify for the tournament alongside hosts Cameroon.

Warriors squad

Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda (Caps United), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)

Defenders: Dennis Dauda (Caps United), Partson Jaure, Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport, SA), Teenage Hadebe (Chicken Inn), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town), Sydney Linyama (Black Rhinos)

Midfielders: Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans, Tanzania), Devon Chafa, Ronald Chitiyo (Caps United), Simon Shoko (FC Platinum), Kudakwashe Mahachi, Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows, SA), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA), Marvellous Nakamba (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu, SA)

Strikers: Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates, SA), Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United, SA), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende, Belgium), Prince Dube (Highlanders)

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