BY HENRY MHARA
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić’s wish to bring in Marvelous Nakamba and several other England-based stars for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers got a boost after Fifa intervention.
The world football governing body was forced to intervene in the club versus country row triggered by the Premier League clubs’ decision to block players from travelling to countries on Britain’s coronavirus pandemic red list.
Individuals travelling from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for 10 days and face the prospect of losing players for up to three matches, Premier League clubs are reluctant to release players.
Zimbabwe is set to host South Africa next Friday at the National Sports Stadium in their World Cup group qualifier opening match before travelling to Ethiopia for the second match four days later.
However, there is uncertainty over the availability of star midfielder Nakamba and other England-based players who were included in the squad announced by Zifa yesterday after English clubs said they would not allow their players to participate in matches taking place in countries that have been “red-listed.”
The other players who have been called for the two matches, but could be affected are Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth), Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Admiral Muskwe (Luton Town) and Macauley Bonne of Ipswich Town.
David Moyo, who plies his trade in Scotland, could also be barred from travelling for the matches.
However, Fifa has opened a window of hope after the world football governing body yesterday reportedly wrote to Zifa encouraging the association to invite all their stars they want for the two qualifiers, promising it that the players will be available.
“We have been encouraged to call the players we want by Fifa who promised us that they will make sure everyone we need will be released,” a Zifa official, who requested anonymity, said.
“That is the reason why all the England-based players have been included in the squad. We delayed announcing the squad until today because of these threats, but as soon as Fifa gave us the greenlight, we then had to publish the list.”
Fifa yesterday wrote to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the release of the players to red-listed countries.
“I have suggested an approach similar to the final stages of Euro 2020 be implemented,” Fifa president Gianni Infantino said.
Infantino said it was a “matter of great urgency and importance”.
“We have faced global problems together in the past and must continue to do so in the future,” he added.
“I am calling on a show of solidarity from every member association, every league and every club, to do what is both right and fair for the global game.
“Many of the best players in the world compete in leagues in England and Spain, and we believe these countries also share the responsibility to preserve and protect the sporting integrity of competitions around the world.”
Under current UK government rules, players would be forced to miss several games because of the 10-day isolation required on their return to the UK.
The Premier League said its clubs “reluctantly but unanimously” came to the decision, adding that “extensive talks” had taken place with the Football Association and government “to find a solution” but that “no exemption had been granted”.
In a statement yesterday, Zifa said they were hopeful that the players would be released for national duty.
“We are still hopeful that all players will be available for the matches despite the adverse position taken by the Premier League to bar players from fulfilling the national assignments citing England’s stringent quarantine regulations. We are engaging all clubs that have intimated that they are going to withhold players, hoping they will fulfil their obligations to release players as stated in the regulations on the status and transfer of players,” Zifa said.
Fifa’s intervention comes as a relief to Logarušić, who was facing another prospect of using a second string squad as was the case during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers earlier this year.
The Croat has named the best possible squad available, with all the big guns, including captain Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Marshal Munetsi and the team’s poster boy Tino Kadewere.
Striker Bonne and defender Galloway have also been called up for their first official match for the Warriors.
Former Caps United midfielder Blessing Sarupinda and goalkeeper Washington Arubi have been included after impressing at the Cosafa Cup tournament earlier this year.
The big omission from the list is that of striker Prince Dube, who has been left out due to injury.
Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi (Marumo Gallants), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF)
Defenders: Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo), Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United), Jordan Zemura (AFC Bournemouth), Divine Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana), Jimmy Dzingai (Unattached), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi)
Midfielders: Blessing Sarupinda (Sekhukhune United), Jonah Fabisch (Hamburger SV), Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Tafadzwa Rusike, Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Ovidy Karuru (Unattached)
Strikers: Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates), Tinotenda Kadewere (Lyon), David Moyo (Hamilton Academical), Admiral Muskwe (Luton Town), Knowledge Musona (Al-Tai), Macauley Bonne (Ipswich Town)
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