Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
INFORM Golden Arrows striker Knox Mutizwa was the surprise exclusion in the 28- member squad called up by Sunday Chidzambwa to prepare for the forthcoming Total African Nations qualifier away to Congo Brazzaville next month.
The Group G encounter is set for September 7 and the Warriors are expected to troop into camp five days before departure.
Chidzambwa lived true to his words that his squad will be made up of players that were part of the 2018 Cosafa Cup that Zimbabwe defended in South Africa.
Only five players, goalkeepers Donovan Bernard of Ngezi Platinum and Tallbert Shumba of Chapungu United, defender Kevin Moyo from FC Platinum, Richard Hachiro from new boys Herentals and Leeroy Mavunga from Yadah, made it from the local Premiership with a majority coming from South Africa’s Absa and National First Division Leagues respectively.
Also making it into the squad is the European trio of Tendai Darikwa who plays for Nottingham Forest, Adam Chiksen of Bradford City and Kevin ‘Kelly Lunga of Boner SC.
Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare was yesterday still trying to get the paperwork for the duo of Darikwa and Chiksen.
“The papers are not yet ready but we just had to call them and hope that the powers that be will treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves,” said Mpandare.
Mutizwa who scored a spectacular season opener against Maritzburg United that resulted in many pundits in South Africa comparing the magical expertise to the likes of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and the larger than life character of Cristiano Ronaldo, was not called for this encounter.
Zimbabwe lead Group G standings by a superior goal difference after their 3-0 win over Liberia in the opening game of the qualifiers in June last year in which skipper Knowledge Musona scored a memorable hatrick at the giant National Sports Stadium.
Democratic Republic of Congo lie second following their 2-0 win over Congo. Musona is expected to lead the troops in the jungles of the Congo as they seek to make it two out of two and make their qualification road smoother.
After playing Congo Brazzaville, the Warriors will again be on the road to take on DRC on October 10 and three days later the two nations will clash in the reverse fixture in Harare on October 13.
On Novembmer 16 they will be on the road again to play against Liberia.
The Warriors will play their last match of the qualifiers at home against Congo Brazzaville.
Group winners and their runners up will qualify for the finals that will be held in Cameroon from June 7-30 next year and the Warriors will fancy their chances of making a fourth appearance at the continent’s flagship tournament, having first qualified in 2004 under Chidzambwa when Tunisia played host to the finals before the now United States of America based Charles Mhlauri took the nation to the 2006 finals in Egypt.
It had to be a long and frustrating 11 years before they made it back to the finals when Callisto Pasuwa was in charge last year in Gabon.
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Donovan Bernard (Ngezi Platinum), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs), Tallbert Shumba (Chapungu United)
Defenders: Devine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Tendai Darikwa (Norrtingham Forest), Alec Mudimu (Cefn Druid), Costa Nhamoinesu (Sparta Praha), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Erick Chipeta ( Cape Umoya), Adam Chiksen (Bradford City), Byron Madzokere (Yadah)
Midfielders: Marshal Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu), Marvelous Nakamba( Clube Brugge), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Talent Chawapihwa (Baroka), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando Pirates), Leeroy Mavunga( Yadah),
Strikers: Khama Billiart (Kaizer Chiefs), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Evans Rusike (Super Sport), Kelly Lunga (SC Boner), Terrence Dzukamanja (Bidvest), Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang), Tinotenda Chibharo (FK Sloboda Uzice).
Sunday Chidzambwa (Head coach)
Rahman Gumbo (assistant coach)
Lloyd Mutasa (assistant coach)
Wellington Mpandare (team manager).