‘Mhofu couldn’t have it his way’

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Evans Rusike of Zimbabwe during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon football match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at the Franceville Stadium in Gabon on 19 January 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa’s noble decision to use the COSAFA tournament to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers might yield less returns as not all players on his wish list showed up.
The veteran coach made a wish list of various international, regional and local players.
However, not every player the gaffer wanted to use turned up, resulting in some changes and a derailing of his future plans.
Knowing ZIFA well, the gaffer opted to use Zimbabwe’s best players at the regional soccer tournament in preparation for the AFCON qualifiers later this year.
Usually, Zimbabwe struggles to organise international friendlies.
Apart from that, camping before a crucial match is usually ridden with problems.
Chaotic preparations for matches have been the order of the day for the flagship team.
En route to Polokwane, the national team had to endure hours on the road as they travelled to South Africa by bus.
Several players Chidzambwa had hoped for the COSAFA failed to show up for various reasons.
Lethal Knowledge Musona could not join the national team as he was reportedly injured.
That is the same story with defender Costa Nhamoinesu. Marvellous Nakamba also failed to join the national team.
The three experienced players are some of the pillars of the national team.
Nhamoinesu’s club, Sparta Prague, advised their defender not to play for the national team as he might aggravate his injury.
Nhamoinesu was reported to have a scheduled surgery in Germany.
On goalkeepers, Chidzambwa had provisionally selected Donovan Bernard of Ngezi Platinum Stars, Chang Marrion from Triangle, George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda.
However, Marrion and Bernard were dropped while Chapungu’s shotstopper Talbert Shumba was roped in.
In defence, Tendayi Darikwa of Nottingham Forest, England, was called in, so was Kaiser Chiefs’ Teenage Hadebe, Bloemfontein Celtics’ Ronald Pfumbidzai and Bradford City’s Adam Chicksen, but they failed to show up.
Instead, Chidzambwa had to make do with Kelvin Moyo of FC Platinum, Divine Lunga of Chicken Inn, Alec Mudimu of CEFN Druids of Wales, Takudzwa Chimwemwe of Harare City and Jameson Mukombwe of FC Platinum.
Andy Rinomhota of Reading and Kundai Benyu of Oldham Athletic are the only midfielders on the coach’s wish list who failed to make it for the Warriors.
Most of the midfielders turned up for the COSAFA tournament.
Leicester City forward Admiral Musukwe failed to show up for Zimbabwe, so did Kelly Lunga.
Another disappointment was Macaulley Bonne of Leyton Orient who failed to show up.
Tinotenda Kadewere is the only European-based striker who showed up at COSAFA.
He plays for Djurgadens IF Sweden where he has been scoring consistently.
Although most European leagues are on break, several players failed to come for national duty.
Zimbabwe had to rely on strikers plying their trade in the local league and South Africa.
Evans Rusike, who scored Zimbabwe’s first goal last Sunday, plays for Supersport in South Africa.
Terrence Dzvukamanja of Ngezi Platinum Stars is the only local striker at the regional tournament.
Clubless Abbas Amidu, who was offloaded by Egyptian side Entag El Harby, has been another option upfront.
Although coach Chidzambwa did not get all he had wished for at COSAFA, the team’s opening match was far from expectations. Pundits expected the defending champions to not labour for a victory against Botswana.
Most countries have been using the regional tournament for developmental purposes using fringe players.
Zimbabwe have four matches slated for later this year in the AFCON qualifiers.
Between September 3-11, Zimbabwe will travel to the DRC before the reverse fixture a week later.
After that, Zimbabwe will travel to Monrovia for a date with Liberia between October 8 and 16.
The final Group G qualifiers will be played between November 5 and 11 in Zimbabwe against the Congo (Brazzaville).
Zimbabwe are aiming for yet another appearance at the biennial soccer showcase.
If the Warriors make it to Cameroon next year, it will be Zimbabwe’s fourth appearance.

Warriors AFCON fixtures
September 3-11: DR Congo vs Zimbabwe
September 3-11: Zimbabwe vs DR Congo
October 8-16: Liberia vs Zimbabwe
November 5-11: Zimbabwe vs Congo (Brazzaville)

Warriors squad:
Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs‚ SA)‚ Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)‚ George Chigova (Polokwane City‚ SA)

Defenders: Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum‚ Divine Lunga (Chicken Inn)‚ Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids‚ Wales)‚ Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Harare City)‚ Jameson Mukombwe (FC Platinum)

Midfielders: Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka FC‚ SA), Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates‚ SA)‚ Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu‚ SA), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns‚ SA)‚ Richard Hachiro (Herentals)‚ Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars)‚ Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Chicken Inn).

Strikers: Tinotenda Kadewere (Djurgardens IF‚ Sweden)‚ Abbas Amidu (Entag El Harby‚ Egypt)‚ Terrence Dzvukamanja (Ngezi Platinum Stars)‚ Evans Rusike (SuperSport United‚ SA)

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