COVID-19 hit Warriors are scheduled to be re-tested for the ailment tomorrow with those returning positive results set to be replaced as the biannual Chan football tournament dates draw closer.
The tournament, which was originally slated to run between April 4-25 last year in Cameroon but cancelled due to the deadly virus, is now pencilled for January 16 to February 7 in the West African nation.
But the Warriors preparations for what will be their fifth appearance at the fiesta reserved for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues were thrown upside-down when nine players and five officials, including coach Zdravko Logarusic, tested positive for coronavirus.
The tests were conducted on December 28 last year when the members had regrouped after the Christmas Holiday.
Both the players and officials have been quarantining with the technical team calling 10 more players on top of the 23 who are in camp to be on standby in case some of those affected may fail to recover by tomorrow.
In fact, ZIFA on Monday registered a bloated team with the required maximum of 33 players with that in mind.
National teams general manager, Wellington Mpandare, confirmed yesterday that the squad will come out of a 10-day quarantine tomorrow with those who return positive results expected to be replaced.
“The plan on the ground is that the squad will come out of quarantine on Friday (tomorrow) and everyone will get tested with those returning positive results to be replaced,” said Mpandare.
“As you may be aware, we have nine players and five officials who tested positive for coronavirus on December 28 last year and they have been isolating with the rest of the squad also quarantining.
“We also had to make a swift decision to put 10 players on standby. Those 10 were part of the initial squad which trained together early in November.
“They are, however, not in camp but they are quarantining at home and we believe they are being careful enough since they know they could be called in anytime and they will also get tested tomorrow.
“We submitted our CHAN squad list to CAF on Monday with 33 players, including the 23 who are in camp and the 10 on standby.
“According to CAF regulations, a team can register up to a maximum of 33 players and we have just done that but we will only travel with 23 to Cameroon.” But all that will be subject to clearance by the Government through the Sports Commission after the country’s supreme sports regulatory authority issued a sweeping ban to all sporting activities in the country in the face of the steeping Covid-19 cases which has forced a month-long lockdown.
Even those disciplines which had been given the go-ahead to return last year, including the Warriors’ preparations for the CHAN tournament, have all been frozen.
And ZIFA have already applied for a special waiver for the Warriors to be allowed to resume training as well as for permission for the team to travel to Cameroon.
Mpandare said if the clearance comes along, the Warriors will resume training late on Friday or early Saturday.
“As we speak, we are still awaiting clearance from the authorities but once we get the green-light we are planning to begin training as soon as we are done with the Covid-19 tests.”
Already ZIFA managed to secure clearance for FC Platinum’s participation in the CAF Champions League match against Tanzania’s Simba SC in Tanzania yesterday.
But unlike in the first phase of their preparations where they played practice matches against different local clubs, the Warriors this time will have to go it alone to minimise chances of contracting the virus.
The team also failed to secure any friendlies before they plunge in the tournament.
They are expected to leave for Cameroon on Sunday ahead of their first match against the hosts on January 16. Zimbabwe will also play Burkina Faso and Mali in Group A.
Warriors squad for CHAN
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Simba Chinani (Dynamos), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi)
Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Jaravani (CAPS Utd), Ian Nekati (Chicken inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi), Carlos Mavhurume (CAPS Utd), Pawell Govere (Golden Eagles), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Talent Chamboko (Manica Diamonds)
Midfielders: Richard Hachiro (CAPS Utd), Ronald Chitiyo (CAPS Utd), Shadreck Nyahwa (Byo (Chiefs), Wellington Taderera (Ngezi), Leeroy Mavunga (CAPS Utd), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Denver Mukamba (Ngezi)
Strikers: Obriel Chirinda (Chicken inn), Tawanda Nyamandwe (Manica Diamonds), Farawo Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs)
Defenders: Frank Makarati (Ngezi Platinum), Valentine Musarurwa (Harare City), Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye (CAPS United)
Midfielders: Devon Chafa (Ngezi Platinum), Juan Mutudza (Dynamos), Phineas Bhamusi (CAPS United), Ishmael Wadi (CAPS United) Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn)
Strikers: Thomas Chideu (Harare City)