Warriors step up preparations

Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
WITH just under a month to go before the Warriors plunge back into AFCON business, coach Sunday Chidzambwa and team manager Welly Mpandare have stepped up their bid to strengthen their squad.

The Warriors will resume their Nations Cup campaign with a tough trip to Brazzaville for a severe test against Congo from September 3 to 11.

Chidzambwa has made no secret of his intentions to have his strongest possible squad available.

The Warriors coach also tasked Mpandare with securing some Europe-based players who are keen to play for their country but are still to get passports.

Pressure has been exerted by the long-term injury suffered by Tino Kadewere and the long spells of inactivity by Tendai Ndoro and Abbas Amidu.

This has reduced the central attacking options for the coach who currently only has skipper Knowledge Musona and SuperSport’s United Evans Rusike as possibilities.

Mpandare said although they were still keen to have the British Brigade and other Europe-based players, they have continued to encounter the same old frustrations over securing their passports.

“All along we have been going through the Sports Commission as the association but now we are trying to engage some people to assist us,’’ said Mpandare.

“We are still pushing and, hopefully, by end of week we will have something tangible but that will not stop us from announcing the squad.’’

Players such as Tendayi Darikwa and Kundayi Benyu are ready to play their part for the Zimbabwe Warriors and have since dispatched their documents to Harare for processing.

Chidzambwa has patiently waited for the process to be complete but is likely to consider other options should the process continue to drag on.

The veteran coach, who had an opportunity to have a closer look at Wales-based Alec Mudimu and such players as Orlando Pirates’ Marshal Munetsi during the COSAFA Cup in Polokwane, says his work is cut out for him.

The gaffer believes some of the players who featured in the regional tournament will have a part to play in the AFCON qualifiers.

The national team face a busy schedule when the qualifiers resumes with, at least, a game every month.

October will see them playing back-to-back matches with Democratic Republic of Congo before concluding this year’s programme with a match against Liberia in November.

The Warriors will host Congo next year in March with the Group G winner and best runners-up qualifying for the continental showcase in Cameroon.

Some Warriors are also making waves at their clubs and Golden Arrows’ Knox Mutizwa scored a superb overheard kick over the weekend in the opening matches of the ABSA Premiership.

Baroka talented winger Talent Chawapihwa told Kick-Off he believes the country has talent to even do well in the World Cup qualifiers.

“We can go far as a team. It’s only that sometimes the national team has problems, in terms of finance, but we have a very good squad and quality players,’’ he said.

“If our economy was better, then we would be able to go a long way.’’

Africa was represented by Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia at the World Cup in Russia and Chawapihwa is hoping the Warriors will be part of Africa’s representatives in four years time.

“That would be a big step for Zimbabwean football. But qualifying for the World Cup requires a lot,’’ he said.

“We have the players, but there are little things that take us back as a country. We just wish to qualify one day.

“We have quality players who are playing outside the country and they have different experiences, which will help us as a team.’’

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