NATION MOURNS FOOTBALL ICON

WARRIORS SQUARDPetros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ENGLAND-BASED teenage striker Macauley Bonne has been handed his first Warriors call-up with the Colchester forward being named in a strong Zimbabwe squad ahead of the senior team’s African Cup of Nations qualifying showdown against Guinea at Rufaro on September 6.

The 19-year-old forward is one of a host of foreign-based professionals in a squad in which coach Callisto Pasuwa has had to make several changes and was forced to omit all Under-23 players who were in the side that beat Malawi 2-1 in Zimbabwe’s Group L opener in Blantyre.

Bonne’s only appearance in Zimbabwean colours came in November last year in a friendly match between the Young Warriors and Morocco with the striker, who turns 20 on October 26, scoring on his debut, albeit on a 2-1 losing cause in Agadir.

His inclusion comes just as Bonne also opened his account for Colchester in the new England League One season scoring in the 2-1 away defeat by Peterborough.

But it is the manner in which he acquitted himself in the friendly match against the Atlas Lions that had already charmed Pasuwa and the former Dynamos coach kept the player in his radar.

Pasuwa also called up Burnley midfielder Tendai Darikwa, while he once again included left-back Costa Nhamoinesu, who has virtually been playing hide-and-seek with the Warriors often giving excuses for snubbing national duty.

The Warriors coach, who has insisted that he would not read much into Guinea’s opening day 2-1 defeat by Swaziland in neutral Morocco, also called on the bulk of his experienced players and recalled veteran goalkeeper Washington Arubi and Danish-based winger Quincy Antipas.

Pasuwa named just seven locally-based players in the squad, two of them being Harare City goalkeeper Tatenda Munditi and Chicken Inn goal-minder Elvis Chipezeze as well as skipper of the CHAN side Danny Phiri, the CAPS United defensive pair of Hardlife Zvirekwi and Justice Jangano and Teenage Hadebe of Highlanders.

Chicken striker Edmore Chirambadare is the only Premiership forward in the squad but he would have to be content with having to understudy the more seasoned professionals after Pasuwa named easily the Warriors best attacking line-up in recent years.

Apart from Bonne, Pasuwa has called on the in-form striking trio of Nyasha

Mushekwi, Knowledge Musona and Cuthbert Malajila, while Mathew Rusike who is now plying his trade with Hamstads BK in Sweden had also been handed a recall after missing on the Malawi game as he was still switching from Kaizer Chiefs.

Pasuwa said he had been forced to overlook the Under-23 players as they would have already left the country for the African Games in Congo Brazzaville by the time the Warriors host the Elephants at Rufaro.

The 44-year-old coach will also miss the African Games with his assistant Nation Dube taking charge of the Young Warriors on Congo as ZIFA have made the qualification for the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon their top priority.

The clash in fixtures also meant that such players like the Dynamos duo of goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva and right back Blessing Moyo and midfielders Wisdom Mutasa and Gerald Takwara were not available for consideration for the Nations Cup assignment.

“Although we have been building our team mainly from the Young Warriors we had already accredited them for the African Games so we have had to look wider and call up more experienced players.

“We have a tough job to do against Guinea, they remain a very strong team never mind that they lost to Swaziland in their last game,’’ Pasuwa said

But there is no doubting that it is the manner in which the Warriors forwards have struck form ahead of the Group L assignment that has left many of the local fans excited about the prospects of the senior team registering their second win in the qualification marathon.

Musona, for years the Warriors talisman, has regained the kind of touch that made him a darling of the Zimbabwe and Kaizer Chiefs fans after a frustrating spell in Germany and has been the leading light at Belgian side KV Oostende where he has been scoring with regularity.

He has now struck four goals in five games to help Oostende lead the Jupiler Pro League standings.

Bustling forwards Mushekwi and Malajila are also enjoying purple patches for their Swedish and South African clubs respectively.

Mushekwi, who is set to return to the Warriors fold after missing out on the trip to Malawi because of injury, has already found the target on 11 occasions in 20 appearances for Swedish top flight outfit Djurgardens.

Malajila, scorer of Zimbabwe’s opening goal of the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier has been in top form for Sundowns since the South African Premiership season started and on Saturday he capped a man-of-the-match performance by firing a brace as the Brazilians thrashed Bidvest Wits 4-2 at Lucas Moripe stadium.

Talented winger Khama Billiat, who struck the winner against Malawi, also found the target for Sundowns.

There was also recall for former Highlanders and Motor Action man Milton Ncube who is now at Ajax Cape Town while skipper Willard Katsande has been retained as did Partson Jaure and Eric Chipeta.

Goalkeepers:

Washington Arubi (University of Pretoria), Elvis Chipezeze (Chicken Inn), Tatenda Munditi (Harare City)

Defenders

Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United), Tendayi Darikwa (Burnley) Milton Ncube (Ajax Cape town) Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague), Partson Jaure ( University of Pretoria), Teenage Hadebe (Highlanders), Justice Jangano ( CAPS United)

Midfielders

Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Danny Phiri (Chicken Inn), Bonnie Macauley (Colchester United), Cuthbert Malajila (Sundowns), Khama Billiat (Sundowns), Kuda Mahachi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Quincy Antipas (Hobro IK)

Strikers

Edmore Chirambadare (Chicken Inn), Knowledge Musona (K.V. Oostende), Mathew Rusike (Halmstads BK), Nyasha Mushekwi (Djurgårdens IF)