WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambga is desperate to have the United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean players in his squad and is pleading with the relevant authorities to prioritise issuing of passports to the players so that they can be eligible to feature for the team in next month’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe has tough back-to-back fixtures against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), starting with a trip to Kinshasa on October 10 before hosting the same team in Harare three days later.
The veteran coach named the British-born Tendayi Darikwa and Adam Chicksen in his squad for last week’s draw to Congo Brazzaville, but the duo who were born in England, failed to acquire Zimbabwean passports to feature in the match.
German-based Kelly Lunga was also called for camp, but he too failed to acquire a passport.
While he was pleased with the performance by his players last week, Chidzambga knows that a star-studded DRC side could pose a totally different and difficult threat, hence the need to have all his best players available.
“We definitely need those players,” was Chidzambga’s response when asked on the need to bolster his squad ahead of the DRC clashes.
“All the areas need to be improved; the defence, the midfield and attack. We have to fight hard, soldier on, fight for 90 minutes and try to get a good result, especially in the away game. We will take each game as it comes. All we need to do is to qualify to play at the finals in Cameroon.”
Chidzambga will be hoping that by the time his team travels to Kinshasa, Darikwa, Chicksen and Lunga and the other England-born stars would have acquired passports.
Zimbabwe travelled to Brazzaville with a hugely depleted side following the withdrawals of some of the team’s key players.
Regulars Marvellous Nakamba, Costa Nhamoinesu and Ovidy Karuru failed to make the trip due to injuries, while Tino Kadewere could not be selected for similar reasons. Winger Leeroy Mavunga withdrew as he was due for trials in Portugal. The team’s poster boy, and the scorer of the Warriors goal Khama Billiat, featured in the match half fit.
Nakamba, Nhamoinesu and Karuru have since commenced training, and hopes are that they will be fit to play against the DRC.
Chidzambga’s men lead Group G log standings with four points after their 3-0 win over Liberia at home, which they followed with a 1-1 draw away in Congo Brazzaville last week.
DRC are second on the standings on point difference after their 3-1 win over Congo, before they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw away in Liberia, making their meeting with Zimbabwe next month, a very crucial contest.
The team that will come out victorious from this battle is almost assured of qualifying for the Afcon finals to be held in Cameroon next year.
Chidzambga is well aware of this and wants to assemble the best possible squad that can match pound-for-pound with the star-studded DRC side.
The plan for the veteran coach would be to get at least a point in Kinshasa and try to get all the points in Harare.
But they will be up against it, with DRC boasting of such stars as Cedric Bakambu, one of the top goalscorers in the Chinese Super League, former Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta now with La Liga side Rayo Vallecano and FC Porto striker Chancel Mbemba.
Some of their regulars also include Everton’s Yannick Bolasie, Junior Kabananga of Astana and Stoke City forward Benik Afobe.
Surprisingly, all the above-mentioned stars did not make the squad that travelled to Liberia, but there is little doubt that they could be called in for the Warriors match.