BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
WARRIORS’ coach Sunday Chidzambga is confident the squad he has selected for the decisive March 24 African Cup of Nations qualifying showdown against Congo Brazzaville in Harare will deliver the ticket to the finals in Egypt.
The Warriors gaffer yesterday named a 28-member squad for the crucial tie in Harare at a Press conference attended by Zifa president Felton Kamambo and board member in charge of competition Chamu Chiwanza.
The squad features three new faces — Germany-based forward Kelvin Lunga, Admiral Muskwe who plays for Lecester City in England and has also played for England Under-17 as well as Godknows Murwira who stars for FC Platinum.
Former Warriors captain Willard Katsande is the notable absentee while midfielder Kuda Mahachi, who was dropped for the away match to Liberia after a dip in form which saw him struggle to hold down a place at his club Orlando Pirates, has been recalled.
Chidzambga, who led Zimbabwe to their maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 2004, believes his squad can deliver the fourth ticket to the biennial soccer showcase and made a passionate plea to all football stakeholders to work together to ensure the team achieves its goal.
“As a coach I would love to qualify for the second time, and we are all working. It’s work from the board and the technical team for us to qualify. We are all working day and night. But the responsibility to qualify Zimbabwe to the finals is not Chidzambga’s duty alone, neither is it Kamambo’s alone. We need the support of all stakeholders including members of the media for us to achieve the objective of qualifying for the finals,” he said.
The Warriors gaffer emphasised that from the 28-member squad, he would trim it to the 22 best who he hopes to work with to secure victory against Congo Brazzaville. The Central Africans have troubled Zimbabwe in the past having come here way back in 1991 and forced a draw that denied the hosts a ticket to the finals.
“I think if you look at our squad, we have added two (foreign-based) players. I think for this game, we have enough time to train for the Congo Brazzaville match. Out of this 28-man squad we will pick the best 11 to start and I am sure we are allowed to put 11 substitutes on the bench, so it is going to be 11 best players on the pitch and 11 substitutes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zifa are involved in talks with Chidzambga over a new contract amid reports that his contract has since expired.
Kamambo, however, said the board had been seized with the matter and has been negotiating with the coach behind the scenes.
He said the matter would be finalised during the association’s board meeting at the weekend.
“It’s true it expired, but we have a board meeting on Saturday, part of our discussion is on the contract of the coach, as of now Sunday Chidzambga is the coach of the Warriors, there are negotiations that are being done at the moment. I am sure we will come up with a very attractive contract for him,” Kamambo said.
Warriors provisional squad:
Goalkeepers: George Chigova, Edmore Sibanda, Petros Mhari
Defenders: Marshal Munetsi, Jimmy Dzingai, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Divine Lunga, Tendayi Darikwa, Godknows Murwira
Midfielders: Butholezwe Ncube, Marvelous Nakamba, Danny Phiri, Richard Hachiro, Ovidy Karuru, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Khama Billiat, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Talent Chawapiwa, Kelvin Lunga, Leeroy Mavhunga
Strikers: Knowledge Musona, Tino Kadewere, Knox Mutizwa, Abbas Amidu, Evans Rusike, Admiral Muskwe