Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor—
WARRIORS coach Callisto Pasuwa was left crying foul after the senior team’s preparations once again got off to a poor start with just six senior team players taking part on the opening day of training at Rufaro yesterday ahead of their African Cup of Nations clash against Guinea. The Warriors will host the Sylie National in a 2017 Nations Cup Group qualifier at Rufaro on Sunday and Pasuwa had been hoping to hit the ground running in terms of training, arguing that Guinea will be a much tougher proposition than Malawi, whom they beat 2-1 in their first assignment. But the coach had to make do with having five local players and only Czech Republic-based defender Costa Nhamoinesu during the afternoon training session.
With broke ZIFA leaving it until late to start running around for air tickets, it meant that the bulk of the foreign legion were still holed up in South Africa for much of the day again while the pair of Knowledge Musona and Mathew Rusike were still at their European bases. ZIFA communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said the tickets had eventually been dispatched yesterday afternoon with those from South Africa expected to arrive last night while Musona and Rusike are due in at lunch time today.
Washingto Arubi, Cuthbert Malajila, Kuda Mahachi, Khama Billiat and Partson Jaure arrived in Harare last night. A Good Samaritan came to the association’s aide to help them secure the tickets and also pay for the tickets and accommodation of the match officials. He also paid for ZIFA to pay duty for the kit, to be used by the Warriors, during their preparations and for the match. “South African-based players will jet in tonight at 20:45hrs. Knowledge Musona, Mathew Rusike, will arrive tomorrow at noon, Czech-based Costa Nhamoinesu has already reported for camp,” said Gwesela
With the bulk of his players nowhere in sight, Pasuwa was forced to arrange two training sessions for the re-arranged Young Warriors side that was set to leave for the African Games in Congo Brazzaville at dawn. Dynamos talisman Ronald Chitiyo, the Chicken pair of goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze and striker Edmore Chirambadare, Justice Jangano of CAPS United and Nhamoinesu were among the senior players who joined the Young Warriors for the afternoon training.
But that scenario did not amuse Pasuwa who felt let down by the administration. “Definitely, I would have wanted the guys to be in camp by Monday. I am here at training and I am just waiting for the rest of the senior players but we have been working out with the Young Warriors. “The situation is for the administration to sort out. “Some of the players we called up have never played together hence I needed them to have more time together but it seems we will have to see how best we can work with the few days that we have,’’ Pasuwa said.
Sparta Prague defender Nhamoinesu was in high spirits and revealed that he was relishing the opportunity of playing a big part in the Warriors’ quest for a third Nations Cup appearance. At 29, Nhamoinesu also knows that the 2017 tournament in Gabon is his last chance to take a crack at the continental soccer showpiece. He bought his own air ticket in order to report for camp.
“It feels great to be back home. It is an honour to be called up to the national team and it shows that what I am doing at my club is being recognised. It’s a pity that I haven’t seen the other guys yet because we need to be fully prepared from the beginning,’’ Nhamoinesu said. “Pressure will always be there whether there has been a win or lose. The result in Malawi was fantastic bearing in mind the travel arrangements and we should take it as a boost and build on from there.
“But we are not looking back to the Malawi game, we should consider ourselves as starting from zero and give it our best shot against Guinea. We have to stay focused.” Nhamoinesu, whose club recently qualified for the Europa League group stage and has played in the UEFA Champions League, believes this has helped shape him into a better player.
“It is a different stage playing in the Champions League or Europa League. It demands discipline, knowing what you have to do, the diet, sleeping time, contact with the outside world and the game becomes more tactical and you have to be aware all the time because it’s not about the legs only but the mind has to be at work all the time too.
“I am happy that we are having more Zimbabweans playing in Europe and hopefully that exposure will help in the Nations Cup qualifiers and when we blend it with the local guys. “Although I can play as leftback of late I have been playing centreback because the new coach we have has been mostly using a 3-5-2 formation,’’ Nhamoinesu said. With ZIFA insisting that the bulk of the players were due in last night, the Warriors’ preparations should move a gear up this morning with their morning sessions tentatively set for Gwanzura.
ZIFA have also revealed that they will not increase the entry fees for the Warriors showdown with Guinea with the cheapest ticket being pegged at $3 while the VIP area will cost $10 and the Upper grand stand $5.
Washington Arubi (University of Pretoria), Elvis Chipezeze (Chicken Inn) Defenders:
Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United), Erick Chipeta (Chippa United ), Liberty Chakoroma (Free State Stars), Milton Ncube (Ajax Cape Town) Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague), Patson Jaure (University of Pretoria), Justice Jangano ( CAPS United)
Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Danny Phiri (Chicken Inn), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kuda Mahachi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Raphael Manuvire (ZPC Kariba) Ronald Chitiyo (Dynamos)
Edmore Chirambadare (Chicken Inn), Knowledge Musona (K.V. Oostende), Mathew Rusike (Halmstads BK), Nyasha Mushekwi, Cuthbert Malajila (Mamelodi Sundowns)