COSTA Nhamoinesu’s future with the Zimbabwe senior men football team is in doubt amid reports that the current national team’s technical bench led by Sunday Chidzambga is fed up by the left-back’s attitude towards Warriors call-ups.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Czech Republic-based star was an integral part of the Zimbabwe team that qualified and played at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon, but has not featured for the team in the current qualifying campaign where Chidzambga’s men are on the brink of booking their place at the finals set for Cameroon in June next year.
Nhamoinesu missed the opening qualifier against Liberia in June last year due to an injury, but after he had recovered and started playing regularly for his Sparta Praha side this year, he has continued to turn down national team call-ups, claiming a shoulder injury.
“The last time I communicated with him for the game against Congo Brazzaville, he said he had a shoulder injury. He sent me a text message saying he can’t play because of the shoulder problem. He said he will let me know when he fully heals and is ready to come for national team assignments. Up to now, I’m still waiting to hear from him,” Warriors manager Wellington Mupandare said.
Nhamoinesu has featured in 12 of his club’s 15 matches this year, and most of the times, he has played the full matches. He was a second half substitute in the team’s 3-1 win away to Karvina at the weekend.
Sources yesterday said Chidzambga was not happy with the dreadlocked defender’s attitude and had shut the door on one of the Warriors fans’ favourites.
“As you are aware, he has been playing for his team week-in and week-out, but is unavailable for the Warriors. The technical team are trying to be professional by saying that he is injured, but the truth is they are fed up with his attitude,” a source said.
The other source said Chidzambga was riled after Nhamoinesu refused to travel to South Africa by bus for the Cosafa Cup tournament earlier this year.
The former Masvingo United player pulled out from the travelling squad on the eleventh hour, citing an injury.
“He pulled out when he realised that the team was travelling by bus to South Africa. If he was really carrying an injury, he couldn’t have travelled all the way from Europe. He faked an injury and it did not go down well with Chidzambga and his technical team. But they offered him another chance for the away trip to Congo Brazzaville, which he again turned down. Perhaps he was thinking the team was also going by bus,” the source said.
A source in the technical team set-up said: “He won’t get another opportunity. We can’t be held to ransom by one player. We will consider players with the national team at heart. We won’t plead with players, only patriots will be selected for the national team. We know some players will want to avail themselves as soon as the team qualifies, but they will be disappointed. If we qualify, those that would have worked for it will play at the finals.”
Nhamoinesu is reportedly not happy with the way he has been treated by Zifa previously.
He was left stranded in Harare following the Warriors’ 2017 Afcon qualifier match against Guinea after Zifa failed to reimburse him money for the air ticket he bought to come for the game played in September 2015.
Kalisto Pasuwa, the then Warriors coach, reportedly intervened and gave the player his personal money to enable him to return to his base in Europe.
Nhamoinesu is one of the team’s senior players who have not featured for the Warriors since the team’s participation at the finals in Gabon.
Striker Nyasha Mushekwi has also been turning down national team call-ups, claiming an injury, but keeps featuring regularly for his Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang where he is one of the league’s top goal scorers.
While the official line is that the big striker gets special medical attention for him to feature for his club, which he cannot get in Zimbabwe, it is reported that Mushekwi has refused to play for the Warriors because he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with a prominent Zifa official over the player’s ex-wife.
The good news is that midfield workhorse Willard Katsande is back in the Warriors fold, and will be part of the squad that troops into camp this week to prepare for the team’s Afcon Group G qualifier match away to Liberia at the weekend, where a point for Zimbabwe will guarantee them a place at next year’s finals.
The Kaizer Chiefs defensive midfielder retired from international football after captaining Zimbabwe at the Gabon finals, but has since changed his mind.
Warriors provisional squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs), Simbarashe Chinani (Dynamos)
Defenders: Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Rodwell Chinyengetere (FC Platinum)
Strikers: Evans Rusike (SuperSport United), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows)