BY HENRY MHARA
ZIFA has been forced to submit a bloated final Warriors squad list for the African Nations Championship (Chan) as the Confederation of African Football (Caf) are taking their time to respond to their request for a deadline extension.
The association last week wrote to the continental football governing body asking to be allowed to send the names of the final 23-squad at a later date amid a crippling COVID-19 outbreak in the Warriors camp, less than two weeks before the start of the competition.
Chan, a tournament reserved for players plying their trade in their respective domestic leagues, kicks off on January 16 in Cameroon.
The deadline for submission of the final squads for the 16 participating teams is Wednesday.
Zifa had not received any response from Caf, forcing the former to hatch a plan. “We are submitting a list of 33 players to Caf,” Warriors general manager Wellington Mpandare said. “We are sending the names of the final 23 players that are in camp, as well as the 10 that are on standby.”
They were forced to put some players on standby after nine players tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to camp on Monday last week from a Christmas break.
Five members of the technical team also tested positive for the virus.
Those that tested positive were isolated, forcing Zifa to suspend training as they consult stakeholders that include the government and Caf.
Another round of testing was conducted last week in case some of those that returned negative were still in incubation period.
Mpandare said the results are expected today.
The 10 players, who are on standby are Devon Chafa, Nqobizita Masuku, Tymon Mvula, Diro Nyenye, Frank Makarati, Ishmael Wadi, Tichaona Chipunza, Thomas Chideu, Phineas Bamusi and Jeansmith Mutudza.
However, the new players will also be tested before they can join camp.
Those who will test positive will need to be quarantined for a mandatory 10-day period before they are cleared to join camp.
But with the tournament less than 14 days away, the Warriors technical team has been left in a quandary.
The Warriors squad is expected to leave for Yaoundé on January 10.
Coach Zdravko Logarušic had hoped to have two friendly matches against Premier Soccer League sides before leaving for Cameroon after they failed to organise international friendlies.
Those plans have been scuttled.
Already, the coach was worried about the team’s fitness levels ahead of the tournament considering that the players have not played competitively all year.
Zimbabwe are in Group A and will face hosts Cameroon in the tournament curtain-raiser. Mali and Burkina Faso are the other group members. Top two teams in the group advance to the quarter-finals.
Warriors Chan squad
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Simba Chinani (Dynamos), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi)
Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Jaravani (Caps), Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi), Carlos Mavhurume (Caps), Pawell Govere (Golden Eagles), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Talent Chamboko (Manica Diamonds)
Midfielders: Richard Hachiro (Caps), Ronald Chitiyo (Caps), Gabriel Nyahwa (Bulawayo Chiefs), Wellington Taderera (Ngezi), Leeroy Mavunga (Caps), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Denver Mukamba (Ngezi)
Strikers: Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn), Tawanda Nyamandwe (Manica Diamonds), Farawo Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs)
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