BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS midfielder Joel “Josta” Ngodzo was the surprise omission from the Warriors’ 32-member squad announced by coach Sunday Chidzambga yesterday for the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Mauritius at the weekend.
Ngodzo is arguably the league’s best player so far, and many had expected him to make the Chan squad, a tournament reserved exclusively for locally-based players.
The former Highlanders man was in sparkling form for the Green Machine in the Harare Derby against rivals Dynamos on Sunday, a fine performance he capped with a spectacular goal for his side in the 1-1 draw.
His omission will surely draw criticism for Chidzambga, who somehow decided to pick players who are behind Ngodzo on the perking order at Caps United.
A player like Ronald Chitiyo, whose ability is unquestionable by the way, made the provisional list although he has barely featured for the Harare giants this season since his recovery from injury.
Blessing Sarupinda has also been doing well for Caps United, but for the young midfielder to be picked ahead of Ngodzo for the Warriors squad, smacks of a scandal.
Besides Ngodzo, Chidzambga’s other picks were predictable, and the list is headlined by the current league top goal scorer Clive Augusto of Chicken Inn, who has scored an incredible 13 goals in 15 matches.
Dynamos new boy Evans Katema has scored eight goals in the league so far and the dreadlocked striker has been rewarded with a first national team call-up.
The former Mushowani star will compete for a place in the Warriors attack with Augusto, Prince Dube of Highlanders and Chicken Inn’s Aubriel Chirinda.
Chicken Inn, who are second on the log standings behind FC Platinum, contributed more players on the list, followed by seventh-placed Ngezi Platinum, who are represented by four players.
FC Platinum, Caps United (third on the log), and Triangle, have three apiece, while Black Rhinos, for all their respectable performance this far, sitting fourth on the log, did not have any player deserving a place in the provisional squad.
Zifa yesterday said players had started trooping into camp ahead of the trip to Port Louis for the first leg match on Sunday.
Training starts today.
The return match will be played the following Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, with the aggregate winner setting up a date with either South Africa or Lesotho in the third round later in the year to decide who goes through to the finals in Cameroon next year.
The Warriors failed to qualify for the last edition of the Chan finals after they were knocked out by Namibia.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will know their opponents for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers when the draw is conducted on Monday next week at the Caf headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.
The Warriors were expelled from 2018 World Cup qualifiers for failing to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini, also known as Valinhos.
Zimbabwe has never qualified for the World Cup before.
Warriors Chan provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Donovan Bernard (Chicken Inn), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Defenders: Lawrence Mhlanga (FC Platinum), Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds), Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Harare City), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars), Xolani Ndlovu (Chicken Inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum), Frank Mukarati (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Donald Dzvinyai (Triangle United)
Midfielders: Ralph Kawondera (Triangle United), Kudzai Chigwida (Triangle United), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken inn), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Donald Teguru (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Never Tigere (FC Platinum), Blessing Sarupinda (Caps United), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Phenias Bhamusi (Caps United), Ian Nyoni (Chapungu), Malvin Gaki (Chicken inn), Nigel Makumbe (ZPC Kariba), Ronald Chitiyo (Caps United)
Strikers: Clive Augusto (Chicken Inn), Evans Katema (Dynamos), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Aubriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn)