Zifa have refused to give up on United Kingdom-based football stars with Zimbabwean roots after calling up Celtic midfielder Kundai Benyu and Nottingham Forest’s Tendayi Darikwa.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Darikwa has failed to heed several national team call-ups before, but Zifa are confident that he will be able to line himself to make a Warriors debut in the two friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia early next month.
Also in the squad are the duo of Admiral Muskwe (Leicester) and Macauley Bonne (Leyton Orient) as Zifa bid to tap into the talent in top English leagues.
Zifa technical director Wilson Mutekede will be the interim coach for the two matches, as the mother body searches for a substantive mentor for the senior men’s team.
Caps United mentor Lloyd Chitembwe, who won his first league title as a coach last year and led the team in the Caf Champions League this year, also steps into the Warriors fray as Mutekede’s assistant, while Tembo Chuma will be the goalkeepers’ coach.
It is the squad selection that will generate a lot of interest as Zifa relaunch an audacious bid to lure the Europe-based players.
Captain Knowledge Musona is also in the squad as well as Saudi Arabia-based striker Tendai Ndoro and Tinotenda Kadewere, who is playing his football in the Swedish top-flight.
Team manager Wellington Mupandare said he had been in constant communication with the players, who have expressed interest in representing Zimbabwe.
He said there was a large number of players in the UK who were willing to come and play for the national team.
“I have a database of about 30 players that I am always talking to who want to play for Zimbabwe,” Mupandare said.
“This time, we have called up some of them and we will see if they heed the call. We will give everyone who wants to play for the national team a chance, but from the way we have been communicating with these players, we are confident that the ones that we have called up will be coming. We are now waiting for official communication via their clubs.”
Mupandare earlier this year also revealed that Benyu, who has made one appearance for Celtic so far this year, had agreed to play for Zimbabwe.
Some of the foreign-based players in the squad include regulars Marvelous Nakamba, based at Club Brugge in Belgium, as well as Maritzburg’s Evans Rusike.
Sundowns star Khama Billiat is not in the squad.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table toppers Ngezi Platinum Stars have two players in the squad, the same as Caps united and FC Platinum.
Only two goalkeepers, George Chigova from Polokwane City and Caps United’s Edmore Sibanda, have made it into the squad.
The Warriors will face Lesotho and Namibia on November 8 and 11, 2017 respectively in international friendly matches.
Zimbabwe will only return to competitive action next year as they resume their quest for a place at the next Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.
Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda (Caps United), George Chigova (Polokwane City)
Defenders: Dennis Dauda (Yadah Stars), Tendai Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders)
Midfielders: Kundai Benyu (Celtic), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Golden Arrows), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Ali Sadiki (FC Platinum),
Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum), Devon Chafa (Caps United), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Ishmael Wadi (Bulawayo City),
Strikers: Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester), Macauley Bonne (Leyton Orient), Tinotenda Kadewere (Djurgardens), Tendai Ndoro (Al Faisaly FC)
Technical Team: Wilson Mutekede (head coach), Lloyd Chitembwe (assistant coach), Tembo Chuma (goalkeepers coach), Hillary Tshuma (team doctor), Admire Nyamadzawo (physiotherapist), Wellington Mpandare (team manager)