Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER missing eight European-based players for the last Afcon qualifiers due to stringent Covid-19 travel restrictions, the Warriors are confident of having their stars for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
The Warriors are in Group G alongside South Africa, whom they face in the opening match between June 5-8, former continental champions Ghana and Ethiopia.
Ghana are the top-ranked team in the group at seventh in Africa and 49th in the world, followed by South Africa, who are 15th on the continent and 75th in the world, while the Warriors are ranked 24th in Africa and 107th in world rankings. Ethiopia is the lowest-ranked team at 40th in Africa and 140th in the world.
Zimbabwe will then embark on an away trip to Ethiopia before taking a long break.
Qualifiers resume in September, with the Warriors taking on Ghana in back-to-back encounters.
The United Kingdom-based brigade led by Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba and consisting of Jordan Zemura (AFC Bournemouth), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Brendan Galloway (Luton Town), David Moyo (Hamilton Academical) and striker Admiral Muskwe of Wycombe Wanderers all missed the Botswana and Zambia Afcon qualifiers.
The UK contingent was forced to withdraw following stringent Covid-19 travel restrictions imposed by the British government, which require one to quarantine for 10 days on returning from red-zone countries that include Botswana at Zimbabwe.
The Warriors also missed the France-based pair of striker Tinotenda Kadewere and midfielder Marshal Munetsi, who were cleared by their clubs to travel, but were forced to withdraw to avoid undergoing a six-day quarantine on their return.
Although the UK and France have maintained their Covid-19 travel restrictions relating to quarantine after traveling to red-zones, Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic yesterday named players from those leagues for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia.
“We sent invitations to their clubs and we don’t expect them to hold on to the players seeing that the European season is about to end.
We’re also waiting on Fifa to give guidance on whether players can hold on to the players since the conditions they set when we played Botswana and Zambia were a temporary measure.
“Now that their leagues will be in off-season, we think there won’t be a problem because the last time players would have missed at least two games,” said Wellington Mupandare, the Warriors manager.
In-form striker Prince Dube, who missed the last two Afcon qualifiers in March due to injury, has been included in the 30-man provisional Warriors’ squad for the World Cup qualifiers.
The Golden Arrows pair of left-back Divine Lunga and striker Knox Mutizwa have also been included in the provisional squad.
Only three locally-based players, Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, Caps United defender Carlos Mavhurume and Dynamos midfielder King Nadolo have been included in the provisional squad.
From the squad that reported for camp when Zimbabwe took on Botswana and Zambia in the March Afcon qualifiers, midfielder Last Jesi, whose contract was terminated by Al-Hilal of Sudan, and Victor Kamhuka have been left out.
Logarušic included the injured pair of Kaizer Chiefs attacker Khama Billiat and Orlando Pirates striker Terence Dzvukamanja.
“From the look of things, Khama is likely to be available based on the initial medical assessment. As for Dzvukamanja, it’s 50-50 because we’re not sure whether he’ll go for an operation or not,” Mupandare said.
Provisional Warriors squad
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF), Talbert Shumba (Nkana)
Defenders: Alec Mudimu (Ankaraspor), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Jimmy Dzingai (Nkana), Jordan Zemura (AFC Bournemouth), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana), Brendan Galloway (Luton Town), Carlos Mavhurume (Caps United)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Ovidy Karuru (Black Leopards), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Knowledge Musona (KAS Eupen), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Perfect Chikwende (Simba), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Rusike (Zesco United)
Strikers: Tinotenda Kadewere (Lyon), David Moyo (Hamilton Academical), Prince Dube (Azam), Admiral Muskwe (Wycombe Wanderers), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates)[email protected]