BY FORTUNE MBELE
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic has been given a blank cheque to call on the players he wants for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia with clubs now compelled to release players for the matches unlike the last international window where clubs were given the freedom to hold on to players.
Some of the foreign-based stars who failed to travel for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia in March after Fifa gave clubs the prerogative to choose whether to allow players to travel to COVID-19 pandemic-hit areas.
Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba, the France-based duo of Tino Kadewere and Marshall Munetsi were among those players that were blocked from travelling to Zimbabwe by their clubs.
Defender Brendon Galloway, who looked set to finally make his bow for Zimbabwe, as well as Tendai Darikwa and Jordan Zemura also failed to travel.
A British publication Mail on Sunday reported that clubs will no longer be able to block players from linking up with their national teams this time around.
The Mail on Sunday reported on an issue of English Premier League (EPL) players from South America such as Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and goalkeeper Allison Becker, who were barred from travelling for Brazil assignments during the last Fifa international break because of the COVID-19 complications and quarantine issues prevailing at the time.
An unnamed Fifa official told the Mail on Sunday in England that: “The temporary amendment was in place until April 2021 and is no longer in effect nor is it intended to be applied for September. Since the outset of the pandemic, Fifa has continued to work in close co-operation with the confederations, member associations and respective authorities, monitoring the different restrictions and exemptions around the world. The regulations have reflected this process, as best as is possible at the global level. Fifa is confident that the situation will continue as it was the case in June for qualifiers and final continental tournaments and that players will be able to travel to play with their national teams and return to play with their clubs,” the Fifa official said.
Some of the players that have been invited for the Warriors’ two matches next month include captain Knowledge Musona now based in Saudi Arabia, Galloway, Darikwa, Munetsi, Kadewere, Zemura and Admiral Muskwe.
United States-based Teenage Hadebe is also on the list of players coming in from foreign leagues.
By last week, Zifa were still not sure whether Fifa would this time compel clubs to release players for their national teams.
Warriors manager Wellington Mupandare said Fifa and Caf were conducting surveys on countries’ COVID-19 protocols and would make announcements in due course.
“Caf or Fifa have not come up with a position on what they are going to do. They are carrying out a survey where they wrote us asking about the COVID-19 protocols in Zimbabwe which the Health ministry responded to and we sent that to Caf. We hope after the exercise they will come up with a position, where our thinking is that this is a World Cup qualifier and Fifa would not want anything to disturb their game. It doesn’t look like the clubs don’t want to release players.”
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