BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
WARRIORS coach Joey Antipas is treating Somalia with respect despite their low-ranking and profile in world football ahead of their first leg preliminary round of the 2022 World Cup qualifier to be played in Djibouti tomorrow.
Locally-based players as well as the coaches left for Djibouti yesterday, where they were expected to link up with foreign-based players ahead of the clash.
Antipas said he would have wanted to field his strongest team for the clash.
“We are going there (Djibouti) with respect for Somalia. We can’t afford to underrate them. Football has evolved and it will not be easy. Ideally, I would have wanted to have all the players available for this game, but we have to make-do with what we have. We have to go and fight to secure a positive result. It’s a chance for those that are there to prove themselves,” Antipas said.
The Warriors coach failed to secure several key players due to a variety of reasons, including injuries.
Khama Billiat is out injured, while striker Tino Kadewere failed to make the encounter following a late request for his services by Zifa to his club, Le Harve, of France.
Billiat and Kadewere have been replaced by Chicken Inn forwards Sipho Ndlovu and Knox Mutizwa of Golden Arrows.
Experienced members of the squad include France-based Marshal Munetsi, Alec Mudimu and Teenage Hadebe, who were all part of the squad that participated in the 2019 African Cup of Nations finals in June.
Zimbabwe are ranked 27th in Africa, while Somalia are the lowest ranked team on the continent sitting on position 53.
Somalia last played at their home ground Mogadishu Stadium in 1988 during an Olympic qualifier owing to civil strife in that country.
Zimbabwe will field a new-look side after a number of players who have been regulars in the team over the last couple of years were overlooked by Antipas.
Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru, Danny Phiri, Talent Chawapihwa, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Marvelous Nakamba, goalkeepers George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda, among others, were all left out and Antipas has declined to explain the reasons behind the decision.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Macclive Phiri (Highlanders), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn), Phenias Bamusi (Caps United), Sipho Ndlovu (Chicken Inn)
Strikers: Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Clive Augusto (Maritzburg United), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City), Evans Rusike (Supersport United)