WARRIORS star Marvellous Nakamba and Ovidy Karuru have been ruled out of Zimbabwe’s trip to Congo Brazzaville for a crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier early next month due to injuries while the trio of British born Zimbabweans Tendayi Darikwa, Adam Chicksen and Kelly Lunga are a major doubt for the match.
BY HENRY MHARA
Belgium-based Nakamba reportedly aggravated the injury he sustained in May this year after returning to training with champions Club Brugge a fortnight ago.
The midfielder sustained a knee injury at the end of the season in May, which saw him sitting out his club’s last league match and missing the Cosafa Cup tournament for Zimbabwe in June.
Warriors manager Wellington Mupandare yesterday told NewsDaySport that he had been told by Club Brugge’s medical staff that Nakamba is down again, and is expected to be out for at least five weeks.
“Nakamba had returned to training and they had hoped that he could be back into the team for their match last weekend. Unfortunately, I have been told that he got injured again, and would be out for four to five weeks so he is definitely out of the match against Congo Brazzaville,” Mupandare said.
“I spoke to the team’s doctors on the phone and they have promised to send me the medical report. We would see if it’s necessary to invite the player here so that we can do our own assessment but as it stands, he is out.”
The Warriors travel to Congo Brazzaville on September 9 for the Afcon qualifiers, looking to consolidate their position at the top of Group G where they currently sit after beating Liberia 3-0 in their opening qualifier.
The group also consists of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are second on the standings by a goal difference after their 3-1 win over Congo in the opening fixtures of the campaign.
Two teams from the group qualify for the finals to be hosted by Cameroon next year.
Nakamba’s absence is a major blow to the Warriors who would also be without Karuru who is yet to fully recover from an ankle injury he sustained at the Cosafa Cup tournament in South Africa.
The midfielder was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle in the Warriors’ quarter-final clash against Namibia, which forced him out of the team’s semi-final and final matches in which Zimbabwe went on to win.
Mupandare said Karuru, who was the captain for the Warriors at the tournament, had started training with his South African premier league club Amazulu, but thinks the Afcon match could come a bit too early for him.
“He has started training, but has a limp. I have spoken to him as well as his club, but I don’t think he will be available. We will keep checking up on him though,” Mupandare said.
The Warriors manager also gave an update on British-born Zimbabweans Darikwa, Chicksen and Lunga, who were all named in the provisional squad for the match against Congo.
Mupandare said there has been very little progress made to make sure that the trio acquire Zimbabwean passports to enable them to feature for the Warriors.
“So far there is no joy. We wrote to the Sports and Recreation Commission so that they can facilitate the process with the Registrar-General’s Office, but every time I go there (Registrar’s Office) to check, they don’t seem to know what is happening. Their chances of getting the papers are very slim. We have made contingency plans just in case they don’t make it.”
The quintet are part of the 28-member provisional squad that was announced by coach Sunday Chidzambwa last week, and their absence could be a major blow to the Warriors’ hopes of making a quick return to the continental jamboree, having participated in the last edition.
Chidzambwa was also forced not to include one of the team’s stars Tino Kadewere who recently moved to France, due to an injury.
But with the likes of skipper Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Costa Nhamoinesu and the returning Nyasha Mushekwi available, the squad still looks formidable and capable of getting a result in the Republic of Congo.
Warriors provisional squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane), Donovan Benard (Ngezi), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Alec Mudimu (Cefn Druids AFC), Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague), Teenage Hadebe (Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Eric Chipeta (Cape Umoya United), Adam Chicksen (Bradford City), Byron Madzokerere (Yadah)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah)
Strikers: Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Evans Rusike (SuperSport), Kelly Lunga (SC Bonner), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang), Tinotenda Chibharo (FK Sloboda Uzice)