Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa believes Tendayi Darikwa could help solve the puzzle he has been having on the right side of his defence, amid revelations that the Nottingham Forest defender could become the first of the British Brigade to finally get a Zimbabwean passport.
Chidzambwa yesterday included Darikwa in his 23-man side for the back-to-back African Cup of Nations Group G qualifiers against the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 13 in Kinshasa and three days later in Harare.
Zimbabwe, with four points, lead Group G on goal difference, with the DRC who have the same number of points in second place, while Congo and Liberia are third and fourth, respectively, after managing just a point apiece from two games.
Chidzambwa has made it clear that he would want his charges to remain in charge of their qualification race by eking results in their top-of-the-table clashes against DRC.
The veteran coach made adjustments to the side he took with to Brazzaville for the 1-1 draw against Congo on September 8 and included Darikwa amid indications by both ZIFA and team manager Wellington Mpandare that the defender was on the verge of securing his long-awaited Zimbabwean passport.
“Marvellous Nakamba returns, having missed the one-all draw against Congo on 9 September.
“Chidzambwa also included Nottingham Forest Defender Tendayi Darikwa, who is expected to have his documentation in order for the crucial matches,’’ read part of a ZIFA statement yesterday.
Chidzambwa revealed that he had been forced to drop winger Kuda Mahachi as the former Chicken Inn man has been struggling for game time at South African Premiership giants Orlando Pirates.
The Warriors coach said the return of the injured midfield pair of Ovidy Karuru and Nakamba and the availability for selection of Darikwa had helped strengthen his side.
“I think it is a much stronger side than the one we had in Brazzaville. With Ovidy and Nakamba returning and with the addition of Darikwa, I think we will travel with a much stronger team.’’
The Warriors coach also backed in-form SuperSport United striker Evans Rusike to lead the search for goals in the absence of two other key centre forwards – Nyasha Mushekwi and Tinotenda Kadewere.
“Since Nyasha and Tino are absent, Evans can still fill the gap.
“He is doing well at SuperSport and I think he can cope well in the two games that are coming.
“I think what we need is to work on perfecting on the midfielders, who should move up into central positions and join in the attack.
“As for Kuda (Mahachi), if you look at Pirates playing, you can see that he is not getting game time and it showed a bit in the game against Congo,’’ Chidzambwa said.
Chidzambwa said he was hopeful the 26-year-old Darikwa would finally end the challenges that his defence had been facing of securing a regular right back.
“We have always had a problem at right back since Eric (Chipeta) was not playing regularly last season.
“Even at COSAFA, we had the challenge in that position, but we hope Darikwa, who has been playing at a higher level, can help resolve that’’.
Seasoned defender Costa Nhamoinesu is also once again out of the squad, with Chidzambwa indicating that the Sparta Prague man had been sidelined by a recurrent injury.
“I am told by the manager that Costa has an old shoulder injury that has recurred and will not be able to make it for the games’’.
Chidzambwa said he is also in the process of securing some video footage of DRC matches in a bid to assess them before the Warriors travel to Kinshasa. There was no place, however, for United States-based striker Lucky Mkosana, with the dreadlocked forward having seemingly struggled to convince Chidzambwa to hand him another call-up.
Mkosana was included in the 18-man side that travelled to Brazzaville, but is yet to taste Warriors action after the 30-year-old striker was an unused substitute on the trip.
Yadah Stars winger Leeroy Mavunga has also forced his way back into the reckoning after missing the tour of Congo and is one of only four local players to have made the grade in the squad.
The others are Mavunga’s Yadah Stars teammate Byron Madzokore, Herentals midfielder Richard Hachiro and Ngezi Platinum Stars goalkeeper Donovan Bernard, who has largely provided cover for Polokwane City’s George Chigova and Witbank’s Edmore Sibanda.
Skipper Knowledge Musona will lead the cast of Europe-based contingent that also includes CEFN Druids defender Alec Mudimu, while poster boy Khama Biliat fronts the South Africa-based legion.
George Chigova (Polokwane City); Donovan Bernard (Ngezi Platinum Stars); Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs)
Divine Xolile Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows); Tendayi David Darikwa (Nottingham Forest); Alec Takunda Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC); Tapiwa Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic); Teenage Lingani Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs); Kevin Njabulo Moyo (FC Platinum); Eric Chipeta (Cape Umoya United); Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars);
Marshal Nyasha Munetsi (Orlando Pirates); Tafadzwa Raphael Kutinyu (Azam); Danny Phiri (Lamontville Golden Arrows); Richard Hachiro (Herentals); Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars); Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu); Marvellous Nakamba (Club Brugge KV)
Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs); Talent Chawapihwa (Baroka); Knowledge Musona (RSC Anderlecht); Evans Rusike (SuperSport United); Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows)