BY HENRY MHARA
Ill-prepared Zimbabwe Warriors will take part at this year’s African Nations Championships (Chan) which kicks off in Cameroon next week after Zifa secured government clearance to participate in the tournament.
The Warriors’ participation at the biannual tournament had been plunged in doubt after government last week imposed a blanket ban on all public activities as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
An outbreak of the virus in the Warriors camp last week resulting in the suspension of training, had also cast further doubts on the team’s participation in the tournament.
However, Zifa yesterday announced that the team had been given a special waiver by the government through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
“The Zimbabwe Football Association advises the nation that our application to proceed with participation at the African Nations Championship has been approved by the Sports and Recreation Commission,” Zifa said in a statement.
The tournament, reserved for players that ply their trade in their respective domestic leagues, kicks off on January 16 in Yaoundé with Zimbabwe taking on hosts Cameroon.
There were fears that the Warriors would abort the trip after nine of the 23 players plus five members of the technical team tested positive for COVID-19 on December 28 upon their return to camp from Christmas holidays.
Another round of tests was conducted last week on those who had tested negative in case they were still in the incubation period. One member of the technical team returned a positive result from the last round of tests.
“We wish all those who tested positive a swift recovery,” Zifa said.
The team is isolating in Harare and Zifa said they will conduct a final round of tests on Sunday to finalise the travelling party.
Those that will return positive results from the final tests will be dropped. Ten players have been put on standby in anticipation of that possibility.
Players that have been put on standby are Devon Chafa, Nqobizita Masuku, Tymon Mvula, Munyaradzi Diro Nyenye, Frank Makarati, Ishmael Wadi, Tichaona Chipunza, Thomas Chideu, Phineas Bamusi and Jeansmith Mutudza.
This group will also get tested for coronavirus on Sunday ahead of the team’s departure for Yaoundé three days later.
“Zifa appeals to all stakeholders to remain vigilant in the face of a renewed COVID-19 threat. Please observe all health and safety guidelines to keep everyone safe. We wish our Warriors all the best and we hope they will prevail in Cameroon. The association would like to acknowledge and thank the SRC for swift processing of our request to keep our preparations for the important assignment on track,” the statement added.
The local football governing body was allowed by the Confederation of African Football to register all the 33 players, including those on standby, for the tournament in case some of those affected may need to be replaced.
Zimbabwe are in Group A which also has Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso.
While Zimbabwe is grappling with coming up with a squad, other teams have upped the ante in preparations.
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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