BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza will only get to know today if Tawanda Maswanhise and Macauley Bonne will be available for Zimbabwe’s World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia next week.
The duo was included in the 25-member squad announced yesterday for the South Africa match next Thursday and at home against Ethiopia three days later.
Mapeza is using the two matches to prepare his team for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
It is the first time that 18-year-old Maswanhise, who plays for Leicester City, has received a national team call-up while twice capped Bonne (25) has ignored recent calls.
Maswanhise, who was born in Harare before moving to London when he was aged two, has not been capped at any level, making him eligible to play for either Zimbabwe or England at international level.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare yesterday said they had engaged the two and expected to get responses today.
“We invited all the players through their clubs as per standard procedure. There has been engagements with Maswanhise’s handlers and we are hoping for the best. We are just hoping that all the players who have been invited will honour the call,” he said.
Maswanhise is the son of former top Zimbabwean sprinter Jeffrey Maswanhise, who has publicly stated his desire to see the youngster play for the Warriors.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers named him in a Premier League squad for the first time ahead of City’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford at the back end of last season. He also made the final squad for the FA Cup final against Chelsea last season which saw him picking a winners’ medal.
There is also hope that Ipswich Town’s topscorer Bonne will finally heed the Warriors calls.
The striker, who was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, earned two international caps in 2017. Since then, the Queens Park Rangers loanee who has already bagged 11 goals this season, has turned down national team calls.
“I have been in touch with Bonne’s manager as well, and he promised to come back to me today. Everything should be clear by the end of the day tomorrow (today) on who is coming and not,” Mupandare said.
The two are not the only new faces in the provisional squad, with Dynamos goalkeeper Taimon Mvula also receiving his first international call-up, and is one of the five local-based players who have made the cut.
Goalkeepers Washington Arubi and Talbert Shumba have been dropped.
Mapeza said he named a squad that reflected youth and experience as he focused on the Afcon finals in January next year.
“It is all about assessment and building a team for the Afcon tournament next year. We need to restore our pride and make Warriors fans believe in our national team again. We also need to start building a team for the future. That is why we have called in some local players, young players and some senior players for these last two World Cup qualifiers.”
Germany-based youngster Jonah Fabisch, who was part of the Warriors squad in the opening two World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia, but benched in both, has received another call-up.
Devine Lunga, Knox Mutizwa and David Moyo have returned to the Warriors fold after missing the team’s last few matches.
Bournemouth star Jordan Zemura, who was outstanding in the Warriors’ last four qualifiers, misses out due to injury and joins skipper Knowledge Musona, Teenage Hadebe and Spain-based goalkeeper Martin Mapisa.
Striker Tino Kadewere, who recently recovered from a long-term injury, has been given time to rediscover form.
The team is expected to start trooping into camp at the weekend before flying to South Africa on Monday. The match is set for FNB Stadium and will kick-off at 9pm.
Goalkeepers: Taimon Mvula (Dynamos), Donavan Benard (Chicken Inn), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Bruce Kangwa (Azam), Divine Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi), Peter Muduhwa (Highlanders), Godknows Murwira (Dynamos)
Midfielders: Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Gerald Takwara (Venda Football Academy), Farai Madhananga (Marumo Gallants), Blessing Sarupinda (Sekhukhune), Tawanda Maswanhise (Leicester), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Jonah Fabisch (Hamburger SV), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Ismael Wadi (JDR Stars)
Strikers: David Moyo (Hamilton Academical), Macauley Bonne (Ipswich Town), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
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