A BUOYANT Warriors squad returns to the National Sports Stadium on Sunday to face Algeria in a 2006 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifier, riding on the strength of a vital point earned
away to Gabon a fortnight ago.
Combative AJ Auxerre striker Benjani Mwaruwari, who had to pass a late fitness test yesterday, could make a return to the squad after a lengthy lay-off due to injury.
Mwaruwari however will have to fight hard for a starting slot against a large pool of strikers in camp.
Shingirai Kawondera, scorer of the equaliser against Gabon, could be considered for a starting place and is likely to partner captain Peter Ndlovu upfront. Newton Katanha is also in for selection, alongside Adam Ndlovu, Joel Lupahla and Brian Badza.
Lupahla could however be drafted in the midfield department to partner Tinashe Nengomasha and Esrom Nyandoro.
Warriors’ assistant coach Brenna Msiska yesterday said first-choice goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro was definitely ruled out due to a groin injury, leaving Tapuwa Kapini to take charge between the goal posts.
Only Germany-based roving rightback George Mbwando is missing from the back line which had formed the backbone of the team in the past two years.
Vice captain Kaitano Tembo bounces back after missing the group opener in Gabon due to injury. Dazzy Kapenya, Dumisani Mpofu and Charles Yohane are set to retain their places in the starting line-up.
Bekhithemba Ndlovu is likely to play Mbwando’s role.
Algeria are no strangers to the Warriors. The north African team were defeated 1-2 by the Warriors in their final group match at the African Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia earlier this year.
“We are okay,” said Msiska yesterday. “The whole squad is here and we are looking forward to the match with confidence.”
Algeria played a goal-less draw against Angola at home in their opening match in Group Five.
The winner of the group – which also includes Nigeria and Rwanda – will qualify for the World Cup finals, while the best three make it to the African Cup of Nations finals.
The Zimbabwe Football Association have hiked entry fees for the crucial qualifier, a move which could see many fans failing to come to the stadium on Sunday.