Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BANTU Rovers and the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s leading goal scorer Bukhosi Zakhu Sibanda has been included in a 23-member Warriors’ squad for the 2017 Cosafa Cup that starts in South Africa next week.
The Cosafa Cup starts on Sunday, June 25, in Rustenburg and ends on July 9.
Sibanda (20), whose club Rovers have been struggling in the league and presently sit second from the bottom of the table, has managed to draw attention to himself with his 10-goals from 14 games.
The former national Under-20 captain is among the five strikers the Warriors’ Cosafa coach Sunday Chidzambwa called up.
Sibanda will battle for a starting place with ex-national Under-23 forward Knox M’tizwa of South African PSL side Lamontville Golden Arrows, Highlanders’ striker Prince Dube, who has six league goals, unheralded Blessing Majarira from the Northern Region First Division and ZPC Kariba’s Raphael Manuvire.
Chidzambwa, a member of Zifa’s High Performance Committee (HPC), has been assigned to take charge of the Warriors’ team for the Cosafa tournament and will be assisted by Dynamos’ Lloyd Mutasa as well as Botswana-based Bongani Mafu.
The caretaker technical staff named a squad that blends youth and experience.
Big goalkeeper, George Chigova, who plays for South African side Polokwane City, kept a clean sheet in the Warriors’ 3-0 win over lowly Liberia in a 2019 Afcon qualifier last week.
Other goalkeepers called up are Ngezi Platinum Stars’ Takabva Mawaya and Talbert Mthombeni of Chapungu.
Chidzambwa also included Ajax Cape Town defender Erick Chipeta and midfielder Ovidy Karuru, who turns out for Durban-based First Division club AmaZulu. The duo was part of the Warriors’ team that beat Liberia at the National Sports Stadium.
Warriors’ doors have also been opened for Michelle Katsvairo, who has been discarded by Kaizer Chiefs after failing to hold down a place, Dynamos’ captain Ocean Mushure, Highlanders’ left-back Honest Moyo and Liberty Chakoroma of Ngezi.
League leaders Black Rhinos have contributed two defenders Jameson Mukombwe and Bruce Homora, while FC Platinum’s midfield pair of Gerald Takwara and Talent Chawapiwa have also been called up.
Chicken Inn’s midfielder Innocent Mucheneka, who has been in terrific form since joining the 2015 league champions from Hwange at the beginning of the season, Yadah FC’s dribbling wizard Leeroy Mavunga and Shabanie Mine’s Collins Duwa are also part of the squad.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said the players are expected in camp today in Harare.
“The team will leave for South Africa on June 23 (Friday) and the players are expected to assemble in Harare to prepare for the trip tomorrow,” Gwesela said.
Zimbabwe are in Group B alongside Mozambique, Madagascar and Seychelles.
The Warriors play Mozambique on June 26, followed by Madagascar two days later and finish off their group games against Seychelles on June 30.
The Warriors have to win their group to progress to the quarter-finals against Swaziland.
Warriors Cosafa Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Takabva Mawaya (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Talbert Mutombeni (Chapungu)
Defenders: Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town, SA), Ocean Mushure (Dynamos), Honest Moyo (Highlanders) Bruce Homora (Black Rhinos), Jimmy Tigere (Harare City), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Nyasha Mpofu (Shabanie)
Midfielders: Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Gerald Takwara (FC Platinum), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu, SA), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Talent Chawapiwa (FC Platinum), Michelle Katsvairo (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken Inn), Collins Duwa (Shabanie)
Strikers: Knox Mtizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows, SA), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Bukhosi Sibanda (Bantu Rovers), Blessing Majarira (Herrentals), Raphael Manuvire (ZPC Kariba)
Technical department: Sunday Chidzambwa (head coach), Lloyd Mutasa (assistant coach), Bongani Mafu (assistant coach), Thompson Matenda (fitness trainer), Admire Nyamadzawo (physiotherapist), Shingirai Binoni (kit manager), Dr Hillary Tshuma (team doctor), Wellington Mpandare (team manager).