WARRIORS star Leeroy Mavunga is set to travel to Portugal for trials with a Primera Liga team and will miss the trip to Congo Brazzaville for an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier early next month, as coach Sunday Chidzambga’s squad continues to be decimated by injuries and withdrawals.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe face off with Diables Rouges (The Red Devils) on September 9 at the Stade Alphonse Massamba Debat in Brazzaville looking to consolidate their position at the top of Group G.
However, Chidzambga’s squad has been plagued with injuries and with three regulars and senior players already confirmed out of the crucial tie, and the withdrawal by Mavunga would come as another blow to the team.
Belgium-based Marvelous Nakamba, Costa Nhamoinesu of Sparta Praha in Czech Republic and Ovidy Karuru of Amazulu have all been struck off the provisional squad announced last week, due to injuries.
Nyasha Mushekwi, who was also named in the provisional squad is a major doubt, while three British-born Zimbabweans − Tendayi Darikwa, Adam Chicksen and Kelly Lunga − who are included in the squad, are yet to be naturalised for them to be able to play for the Warriors in official matches.
There has been very little progress made to make sure that the trio acquires Zimbabwean passports.
Warriors manager Wellington Mupandare yesterday told NewsDaySport that the team has been further decimated with the news that Mavunga will miss the trip to Brazzaville after he has been invited by Portugal league side Clube Desportivo Feirense for a one-month trial stint.
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The winger, whose travelling papers are already sorted, is expected to leave for the European country today.
“He should leave tomorrow (today) for trials. I understand it will be month-long and it would not be possible to invite him in-between so he is out of the match against Congo Brazzaville. We would have wanted him to be part of the Warriors squad, but we can’t deprive him such a life-changing opportunity. We wish him all the best,” Mupandare said.
This is the second time that Mavunga is travelling to Portugal on a similar expedition, having been invited by European giants Benfica last year.
Mupandare said they have already made replacements to the squad, with United States-based Lucky Mkosana, who plays for Penn FC in the second-tier division, the latest to be drafted in to replace the Yadah FC star.
Other players that have been included, who had been initially omitted are Ronald Pfumbidzai as a direct replacement to Nhamoinesu, Danny Phiri to replace Nakamba, Liberty Chakoroma and Knox Mutizwa.
Chidzambga was also forced not to include one of the team’s stars, Tino Kadewere who recently moved to France, due to an injury.
But with the likes of skipper Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Kuda Mahachi and rising star Talent Chawapiwa available, the squad still looks formidable and capable of getting a result in Congo.
Zimbabwe currently top the group with three points, but on goal difference, following their 3-0 win over Liberia 3-0 in their opening qualifier.
The group also consists of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are second on the standings by a goal difference after their 3-1 win over Congo Brazzaville in the opening fixtures of the campaign. Two top teams in the group qualify for the Afcon finals to be staged in Cameroon next year.
Warriors provisional squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane), Donovan Benard (Ngezi), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Alec Mudimu (Cefn Druids AFC), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Teenage Hadebe (Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Eric Chipeta (Cape Umoya United), Adam Chicksen (Bradford City), Byron Madzokerere (Yadah)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando), Lucky Mkosana (Penn FC), Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Strikers: Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Evans Rusike (SuperSport), Kelly Lunga (SC Bonner), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang), Tinotenda Chibharo (FK Sloboda Uzice)