BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA/TERRY MADYAUTA
ZIFA has blamed government for the shambolic preparations that have seen Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic travel to Malawi today with a severely depleted squad, dominated by home-based players who last played competitive matches last year.
By suggesting that the government delayed clearing the trip to Malawi after only approving it on October 8, the soccer-controlling body is making things worse as it should have done its part by sending invitation letters to players’ respective clubs on time and wait for government clearance.
The soccer-governing body was in the first place never thinking of a practice match before the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Desert Foxes of Algeria until Loga insisted that it was important if the team is to qualify for the continental soccer showcase.
Sports and Recreation Commission director-general Prince Mupazviriho early this week told NewsDay Sport that Zifa’s application to the government for the clearance of the Malawi trip had not been submitted on time.
In a statement yesterday, Zifa said the squad could have been announced before the commencement of the international break, but the association was waiting for clearance from government.
“The list would have been announced before the commencement of the international break as is the norm, but the announcement had to be delayed until we had clearance from government to travel to Malawi for the match. The government approved our request to travel to play Malawi on October 8 2020.
“Due to travel embargoes in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some players from abroad whom the coach wished to assess will not make it for this match.
“Consequently, the technical team incorporated nine locally-based players into the team, with one eye on the upcoming 2021 African Nations Championship,” the statement read.
Although the squad named by Loga yesterday is headlined by Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs) and Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), other key players like skipper Knowledge Musona and several other Europe-based stars are conspicuous by their absence.
Apart from those playing for Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum, the rest of the home-based players last played competitive football at the end of the 2019 season.
When football action was about to start in March this year, the government imposed a national lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Chicken Inn defender Ian Nekati, Ngezi Platinum duo of Qadr Amini and Wellington Taderera as well as Caps United winger Phineas Bhamusi are some of the locally-based players set to travel to Malawi today.
Logarusic admitted yesterday that the shambolic build-up to the international friendly would weigh heavily on his side as he prepares the team to face Algeria.
“We received the permission from the government, but a lot has been happening behind and we also finalised the list of players,” he said.
“That means we need to speed up the process as much as we can. We had problems on wether we play or not but everything is almost fixed.
“We are trying, things are not so easy but we are trying because we were a bit late, government approvals and COVID-19 effects but Zimbabwe are warriors and the coach is a warrior so we will do good.”
1 Talbert Shumba (Triangle United)
2 Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
3 Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn)
4 Qadr Amin (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
5 Alec Mudimu (Sherriff Tiraspol)
6 Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Buildcon)
7 Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor)
8 MacClive Phiri (Sekhukhune United)
9 Jimmy Dzingai (Nkana FC)
10 Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa)
11 Tanaka Chinyahara (Red Arrows)
12 Ishamel Wadi (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
13 Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs)
14 Wellington Taderera (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
15 Phenias Bamusi (Caps United
16 King Nadolo (Dynamos)
17 Charlton Mashumba (Polokwane City)
18 Stanley Ngala (FC Platinum)