BY HENRY MHARA
ENGLAND-BASED Brendan Galloway is set to be roped into the Warriors provisional squad that is expected to be announced today ahead of two decisive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifiers next month.
Zimbabwe travel to Botswana on March 25 in a crucial match where a win would earn them a ticket to next year’s Afcon finals set for Cameroon.
Four days later, the Zdravko Logarušić-coached side host Zambia to conclude their qualification campaign.
Many local football enthusiasts are hopeful that by the time Chipolopolo arrive in Harare, the Warriors would have wrapped up their qualification.
Logarušić is expected to announce his squad for the two assignments today, and NewsDay Sport is reliably informed that the Croat wants Galloway to be part of the squad.
Sources said while the coach would stick to the bulk of the players that did duty against Algeria in the last two qualifiers at the end of last year, there would be a few additions.
It is said Logarušić will name a bloated squad of about 40 players as he anticipates that some of the stars will not be able to turn up due to different reasons, including COVID-19
Information obtained shows that the 24-year-old Galloway was one of the England-based Warriors on the provisional list.
The others are regulars Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa, Jordan Zemura and Adam Chicksen, who were part of the squad that played against the African champions in back-to-back clashes in November last year.
Sources said Zifa authorities had engaged Galloway, who has reportedly agreed to honour the call-up.
The former Everton left-back has previously turned down Zimbabwe, with the hope of turning out for England which he represented at junior levels.
He was called up to the Warriors squad for the 2017 Afcon finals, but did not show up, choosing to be part of the England U21 set-up that was competing in the Euro U21 qualifiers.
The defender, who is currently in the books of championship side Luton Town, was born in Harare before relocating to England at the age of six, making him eligible to play for either Zimbabwe or England.
But the availability of Galloway and the rest of the England-based stars for the two final qualifiers is in doubt due to the tough COVID-19 regulations enforced by that country.
England has put 33 countries classified as high-risk areas in terms of coronavirus variants under a red list and Zimbabwe is part of them.
The British authorities want all those returning from the red-listed countries to be quarantined for 10 days at an airport hotel on their return.
Most clubs have said they are not comfortable with this arrangement as that will mean that their players will miss some matches.
Fifa has said the clubs can choose to refuse to release their players.
Logarušić was initially supposed to name his squad last week, but was forced to delay as he was waiting for feedback from the English clubs.
Zifa had not received feedback by yesterday evening. The association has, however, said the coach will go ahead with the squad announcement today.
The coach is also expected to reward those who played well at the Africa Nations Championships, with King Nadolo, Farawu Matare and Shadreck Nyahwa expected to receive call-ups.
Zimbabwe are second in Group H with five points, behind log leaders and already-qualified Algeria (10 points).
With the group’s top two teams qualifying to the Afcon finals, the Warriors will book their place if they beat Botswana and Zambia fail to beat Algeria.
Botswana have four points, while Zambia are on three.
- Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara