BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Zimbabwe senior national football team coach Zdravko Logarušić is set to offer former FC Platinum midfielder Thabani Kamusoko a route back into the Warriors fold after including him in the preliminary squad with doubts lingering over the availability of Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba.
The Zesco United midfield workhorse is part of the squad that is set to be announced today for the two Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Botswana (away) and a home tie against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Kamusoko last played for the Warriors during the forgettable 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt then under Sunday Chidzambgwa.
Since then the 32-year-old had fallen out of favour despite being one of the most consistent players plying their trade outside the country.
His club Zesco United confirmed receiving communication from Zifa and this time around, the Bulawayo-born linkman could be handy for Logarušić and his lieutenants, especially if Aston Villa decline to release Nakamba in line with the United Kingdom policy on COVID-19.
Other players that could fail to make the trip due to the restrictions imposed by the UK government include rightback Tendayi Darikwa, leftback Brendon Galloway, Adam Chicksen and Jordan Zemura.
There are fears that the Aston Villa star could miss these decisive qualifiers for their prestigious continental competition.
By late yesterday, Zifa were still trying to ascertain whether the British brigade will be allowed to make the trip and the uncertainty has caused anxiety in the national team set-up, which also include Lloyd Chitembwe and Tonderai Ndiraya.
Logarušić will be hoping that the England-based players are released in time for the qualifiers to give him a full strength squad as he seeks his first win in charge of the national team.
NewsDay Sport understands that Galloway is set to be included in the Warriors provisional squad.
The former Everton leftback has previously failed to honour call-ups to play for Zimbabwe, as he pinned hopes on representing England.
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 Under-21 set-up that was competing in the Euro Under-21 qualifiers.
Just like Nakamba and Darikwa, his availability remains in doubt owing to COVID-19 restrictions.
Also tipped for a return is the pair of Evans Rusike and Knox Mutizwa, who are currently attached to SuperSport United and Golden Arrows in South Africa’s DStv Premiership.
The underfire 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.
Reports indicate that Reading midfield Andy Rinomhota has rejected a call-up to represent Zimbabwe.
The Leeds-born midfielder is one of the British-born players of Zimbabwean heritage that Zifa was trying to entice to play for the Warriors in the forthcoming games.
But their efforts have hit a snag. He joins the like of Queens Park Rangers striker Macauley Bonne and Arsenal star Reiss Nelson who have turned down the opportunity to play for the Warriors.
The Warriors will travel to Botswana on March 22 in a crucial match where a win would earn them a ticket to Cameroon next year before hosting Zambia four days later to conclude their qualification campaign.
Zimbabwe sit second on the Group H table with five points, and as many adrift to log leaders, Algeria, who have already qualified.
The Warriors are just a point ahead of Botswana and if they can win against their neighbours, they will clinch the second qualifying spot, but anything other than three points leaves the door open for their opponents to clinch the slot.
- Follow Terry on Twitter @madyautatpm