Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIORS’ Cosafa Cup coach Sunday Chidzambwa has dropped the Castle Lager Premiership’s leading goal scorer Bukhosi Sibanda from the final squad that departs for South Africa this morning.
The 20-year-old Bantu Rovers skipper has scored an impressive 10 goals in 14 league starts and is now just a goal shy of the 11 last season’s Golden Boot winner Leonard Tsipa scored.
Expectations were high that Sibanda would be given the opportunity to shine for his country at the regional showpiece, but in a shock move, Chidzambwa dropped the youngster in favour of the Shabanie Mine duo of Collins Dhuwa and Nyasha Mpofu.
“The coaches had to make a decision and Bukhosi is not a bad player at all, he must not be disappointed by being dropped. This was his first senior national team call up and age is on his side. It might also be a blessing for him as some of these boys tend to be affected badly, especially if they fail to perform to expectations at national team level compared to club football,” said Warriors’ manager Wellington Mpandare.
He defended the inclusion of Mitchell Katsvairo, who failed to command a place in the Kaizer Chiefs’ team, making just 12 appearances for Amakhosi and scoring a single goal.
He is among the players Chiefs offloaded as they prepare to challenge for silverware next season.
“Katsvairo is a utility player, who can be vital in more than one position, and the coaches probably looked at that,” said Mpandare.
The former Chicken Inn player is being loaned out, but is yet to find a club.
With Sibanda dropped, the coaches will now bank on the experience of Knox Mutizwa, who is almost sure to be the side’s key frontman judging by his exploits in the just ended Absa Premiership. He is likely to be partnered with his former Highlanders’ companion, Prince Dube.
The other strikers in the squad are Raphael Manuvire and little known Blessing Majarira from Northern Region First Division side Herentals.
The Warriors start their campaign on Monday against Mozambique at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg before clashing with Madagascar at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on June 28 and Seychelles at the same venue on June 30.
If Zimbabwe top their group, they will face Swaziland in the quarter-finals on July 2, with the winner of that tie meeting either Namibia or Lesotho in the semis.
Warriors Cosafa Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Takabva Mawaya (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Talbert Mutombeni (Chapungu)
Defenders: Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town, SA), Ocean Mushure (Dynamos), Honest Moyo (Highlanders) Bruce Homora (Black Rhinos), Jimmy Tigere (Harare City), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos),
Midfielders: Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Gerald Takwara (FC Platinum), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu, SA), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Talent Chawapiwa (FC Platinum), Michelle Katsvairo (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken Inn),
Strikers: Knox Mtizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows, SA), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Blessing Majarira (Herentals), Raphael Manuvire (ZPC Kariba)
Technical department: Sunday Chidzambwa (head coach), Lloyd Mutasa (assistant coach), Bongani Mafu (assistant coach), Thompson Matenda (fitness trainer), Admire Nyamadzawo (physiotherapist), Shingirai Binoni (kit manager), Dr Hillary Tshuma (team doctor), Wellington Mpandare (team manager).