By Mukudzei Chingwere and Grace Chingoma
ZIFA have said they have no issues with former Warriors captain, Willard Katsande, being considered for national duty but the decision to either include, or leave him out of the side, lies sorely with coach Sunday Chidzambwa. The gritty midfielder announced his retirement from international football at the end of the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon and has not featured for the Warriors since then.
However, Katsande told The Herald last week he would reconsider his stance and return for another dance with the Warriors should the coach believe he could add value to the battle for a place at next year’s AFCON finals.
There had been expectations that, after Marvelous Nakamba and Ovidy Karuru were ruled out of the match against Congo in Brazzaville next month, Katsande would be recalled to bring in the experience needed in the team.
Some reports had suggested that Katsande was one of the players who were banned for playing for the Warriors in the wake of the fallout that followed the boycott of a farewell dinner, organised for the team, last year.
However, some of those players who were said to have been blacklisted, including Nyasha Mushekwi, have bounced back into the team.
ZIFA said they did not interfere in decisions made by Chidzambwa who had the freedom to choose the players he believes would suit well in his team.
“Chidzambwa is free to call anyone he wants to be part of his team,” said the association’s communications manager Xolisani Gwesela.
“ZIFA takes pride in the independence of our coaches, we do not interfere in team selection, and coaches use their own discretion in selecting players.
“The duty of the association is to facilitate in bringing the players the coaches would have selected, if there are injuries to the initial squad, the coaches are free to consider anyone of their choice.”
“We selected players with a provision to cover for injured players, the squad will actually be trimmed but, maybe, we will add one or two players to the squad,” the coach said.
“The issue of who will come, we will have to discuss that with other coaches, as for Katsande, I cannot say yes or no, in fact I can not comment about that.
“There is an issue where it is said he retired so I do not want to say anything about that because I do not know the circumstances surrounding his retirement.
“But, for more information, you can go and speak to the association’s spokesperson.”
Zimbabwe will battle Congo in Brazzaville on September 9.
The Warriors have been hard hit by a number of injuries to key players.
Belgium’s Club Brugge midfielder Nakamba, who aggravated the injury he has been carrying for the past two months, has been ruled out for, at least, five weeks.
Midfielder Karuru, who has been on light training since the South African Premiership resumed, has also failed to recover to play in the AFCON game.
Ironically, the Warriors were also without talisman Khama Billiat when they started their 2019 AFCON campaign with a 3-0 win over Liberia at the National Sports Stadium in June last year.
New captain, Knowledge Musona, scored all the three goals that afternoon.
ZIFA have been running around to secure the important documents, which are needed in the competitive international matches, but the association have been saying they have been receiving little, or no support, from the Sports Commission.
Relations between ZIFA and the Sports Commission remain frosty and, unfortunately, their differences are now affecting the Warriors.
Yesterday, Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare said, for now, they have only added Chakoroma to the initial squad of 28 players announced last week.
Mpandare believes Chakoroma can perfectly fit into the team and coach’s plans.
“Liberty is a more of a utility player. Remember at his club he plays as a centre-back and at the national team we have used him as a midfielder.
“He can play as a holding midfielder, he can also play as an attacking midfielder, so he is very useful and considering that Nakamba, who is more of a box-to-box midfielder, as well as Ovidy (Karuru), who can play the same attacking midfield role, are out, Chakoroma can fill in that role and replace those two,” said Mpandare.
He becomes the second player from Ngezi Platinum Stars to be drafted into the national team after goalkeeper Donovan Bernard was included in the original list.
Polokwane City’s George Chigova headlines the list which also has Witbank’s Edmore Sibanda and Talbert Shumba of Chapungu United.
Defenders: Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Tendai Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC), Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Eric Chipeta (Cape Umoya United), Adam Chicksen (Bradford City), Byron Madzokere (Yadah FC).
Midfielders: Marshal Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando Pirates), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah).
Strikers: Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Evans Rusike (SuperSport), Kelly Lunga (SC Bonner), Terrence Dzukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang), Tinotenda Chibharo (FK Sloboda Uzice).
CONGO (possible squad)
Goalkeepers: Christoffer Mafoumbi (Free State Stars, South Africa), Barel Mouko (La Mancha), Pavelh Ndzila (Etoile du Congo)
Defenders: Marvin Baudry (Zulte-Waregem, Belgium), Arnold Bouka Moutou (Dijon, France), Tobias Badila (Nancy, France), Clevid Dikamona (Bourg-en-Bresse, France), Francis N’Ganga (Charleroi, Belgium), Beranger Itoua (CARA Brazzaville)
Midfielders: Yhoan Andzouana (Monaco, France), Durel Avounou (Caen, France), Hardy Binguila, Charlery Mabiala (both AJ Auxerre, France), Jordan Massengo (Union St Gilloise, Belgium), Delvin Ndinga (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Merveil Ndockyt (FK Tirana, Albania), Prince Oniangué (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England)
Forwards: Dylan Bahamboula (Dijon, France), Thievy Bifouma (Osmanlisport, Turkey), Fodé Doré (Angers, France), Sylver Ganvoula (Anderlecht, Belgium), Moïse Nkounkou (FK Tirana, Albania), Fabrice Ondama (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco).