ZIMBABWEAN foreign-based footballers will have to wait until next year to play for the Warriors as coach Ian Gorowa will only start using them in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
REPORT BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The draw for Afcon 2015 is scheduled to be conducted in Johannesburg next January, with qualification matches within 12 groups being played inside a crammed three-month period, between September and November next year. The finals will be staged in Morocco.
Gorowa said overseas-based players would play a central role in his team but indicated that they could only play in the March 5 and August 13 2014 international friendly days.
His top priority now is gearing up for the African Nations Championships (Chan) which is limited to local-based players whom he has entrusted with the job ahead of the final World Cup qualifier against Mozambique on September 8 and the friendly international against South Africa two days later.
“I have not yet bothered monitoring progress of European-based players because right now I am busy with preparing for the Chan tournament,” said Gorowa.
“We will use these foreign-based guys in the Afcon qualifiers which require more experience. These guys have relevant experience but calling them would depend on the positions they play.”
The foreign-based players have expressed keen interest to be part of Gorowa’s promising Warriors project.
Gorowa assumed the coaching reins in July and has been unbeaten in four matches so far as he is trying to instill what he has termed “winning habits”.
His greatest triumph so far has been beating Zambia away for the first time ever, to qualify for the Chan finals and in the process breaking Chipolopolo’s 100% record at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
This set the tone for the “Vision 2015” where the ultimate goal is qualification for Afcon.
Some internationals who are playing highly-competitive football in Europe have often been overlooked and this has partly contributed to the Warriors’ underperformance against much-fancied opponents, especially those from North and West Africa.
Sparta Prague defender Costa Nhamoinesu leads the European contingent as the Zimbabwean is currently turning out for a big club in Europe.
The 27-year-old has literally personalised the left-back position at Sparta and is former Manchester City forward Benjani Mwaruwari’s successor to play for a giant in Europe in recent years.
Sparta Prague have the bulk of the Czech national team players and are one of the most successful clubs in Central Europe. In the Czech Republic, it has a record 35 league titles and 27 Czech Cups.
The former Uefa Champions League semifinalists and Uefa Cup Winners Cup quarter finalists’ notable ex-players include Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, Juventus legend Pavel Nedved, Arsenal winger Thomas Rosicky, Jan Koller and Karel Poborsky formerly with Manchester United.
With seven years of experience of playing in Europe that includes a stint in Poland, Nhamoinesu feels the Warriors are an indomitable force in Africa.
“I think motivation for the local-based players to work harder is important. Personally, I would also like to think that my presence in the national team would build confidence for the whole team since I am commanding a first team jersey at my club. But it is up to the coaches to select me and I will always respect their decisions,” said Nhamoinesu.
“I have been in Europe for some time but playing for the national team is a great honour. By being exposed to a European environment where tactics are of paramount importance, it would be much easier for any coach to work with me. But the most important of all is the pride and determination to represent my country in the best way and help achieve the aims and targets of the national team.”
With his last Warriors call-up coming from Norman Mapeza two years ago for an Afcon qualifier against Mali which he did not turn up for due to injury, Nhamoinesu last featured for the national team in a friendly international against Mozambique in 2007.
He has eight Warriors caps after having played seven times for the Under-23s and six matches for the Under-20 side.
Swedish Allsvenskan side Kalmar FF midfielder Archford Gutu, who has always been part of the Warriors, does not only want to qualify for Afcon, but to leave a mark there.
“It will be good to qualify for Afcon and do well also at the tournament. We must do better than before,” said Gutu.
He believes his European experience has moulded him into a better player.
“Football here has added the defending part in me which was less before. Now I think it is 50/50 for me to attack and defend and I can now read the game more,” he said.
He plays as second striker at Kalmar and occasionally on the wing but he prefers the former.
“It is good that the local players beat Zambia and it is also good that they are going to play the World Cup qualify game [against Mozambique] which will give them more international experience and it will add more competition in the team.”
Other European-based players who could make a difference in the Warriors camp include English Championship side Charlton Athletic midfielder Bradley Pritchard and Belgium-based Ovidy Karuru.