Warriors coach Baltemar Brito has made last-minute changes to his squad for the back-to-back World Cup qualifiers this week in Rwanda, bringing in defender Devine Lunga while six British-born stars who were in the provisional squad announced a fortnight ago have been dropped.
Brentford’s Marley Tavaziva, Liverpool’s Isaac Mabaya, Leon Chiwome of Wolves and Leicester’s Tawanda Maswanhise, were included in the provisional squad for possible Warriors debuts, but have all since been left out of the final team to do duty against Rwanda tomorrow at the Huye Stadium in Butare. After Rwanda, the Warriors then host Nigeria at the same venue four days later.
Zimbabwe will play their home match against the Super Eagles in Rwanda because the country has no Caf-certified stadium.
Tendayi Darikwa of Apolon Limassol and Brendon Galloway of Plymouth Argyle have pulled out of the squad due to injuries.
Zifa announced the revised squad yesterday but did not specify the reasons for the changes in the squad.
However, NewsDay Sport gathered that the country's football governing body failed to process Zimbabwean passports for the players born in the UK.
Galloway and Darikwa already have their documents, having previously represented the Warriors.
Mabaya, the highly-rated Liverpool teenager is also said to be injured, but it is understood he didn't show any interest in representing Zimbabwe when contacted to link up with the national team.
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Lunga, the forgotten Mamelodi Sundowns leftback, was the surprise inclusion into the squad.
The defender, whose last appearance for the team was at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals, is yet to play a competitive match for the Brazilians this season.
He was called by Brito for a national team training camp in Harare last month, but was omitted from the initial 28-man provisional squad the Brazilian coach announced for this week’s Group C opening matches against Rwanda and Nigeria.
The other group C members are South Africa, Benin and Lesotho, with the team that finishes top of the log qualifying directly to the World Cup finals to be held in America in 2026.
All the Europe-based stars including Marshall Munetsi and Marvelous Nakamba, plus US-based Teenage Hadebe were all expected to have arrived in Rwanda' capital Kigali yesterday ahead of the 120-kilometre journey to Butare today.
The first batch of the Warriors contingent which comprised of local based players — Tanaka Shandirwa, Frank Makarati, Donovan Bernard, Walter Musona, Obriel Chirinda, Peter Muduhwa, Andrew Mbeba and Brian Banda — arrived in Kigali on Saturday morning, together with Saudi Arabia-based Gerald Takwara.
Tanzania-based striker Prince Dube arrived on Sunday.
Final Warriors squad
Goalkeepers: Donovan Bernard (Chicken Inn)
Washington Arubi (SuperSport United, SA)
Martin Mapisa (FC Malaga City, SPN)
Defenders: Andrew Mbeba,
Peter Muduhwa (Highlanders), Frank Makarati (Dynamos),
Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo, USA), Munashe Garan’anga (Sheriff Tiraspol, MOL), Jordan Zemura (Udinese, SPN),
Tivonge Rushesha (Reading, ENG), Divine Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA)
Midfielders: Brian Banda (FC Platinum), Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims, FRA), Andy Rinomhota (Cardiff City, ENG), Marvelous Nakamba (Luton Town, ENG), Gerald Takwara (Ohod, SAUDI), Tanaka Shandirwa (Dynamos)
Forwards: Obriel Chirinda (Bulawayo Chiefs), Prince Dube (Azam, TANZ), Tino Kadewere (Lyon, FRA), Admiral Muskwe (Exeter City, ENG), Walter Musona (FC Platinum), Terrence Dzvukamanja (SuperSport United, SA).