BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
LOCAL football governing body Zifa yesterday announced changes to the Zimbabwe Under-23 technical set-up as the junior national team prepares to begin their path towards qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in two weeks’ time.
Highlanders assistant coach Mandla Mpofu and Nesbert Saruchera of Northern Region Division One side Cranborne Bullets were confirmed as head coach Tonderayi Ndiraya’s assistants during Zifa’s board meeting in Harare yesterday.
Charles Mukaronda remains the team manager after serving in a similar role under former coach Kalisto Pasuwa, while Tembo Chuma is the goalkeepers’ coach.
Ndiraya is expected to name his squad this week ahead of the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Mozambique in Maputo on March 22‚ with the return leg scheduled for the National Sports Stadium on March 26.
The Young Warriors were given a bye through the preliminary round‚ where Mozambique beat eSwatini on the away goals rule following 0-0 and 1-1 stalemates over the two legs.
If Zimbabwe beat Mozambique‚ they will meet neighbours South Africa or Angola for a place at the eight-team U-23 Afcon in Egypt in November‚ where the top three teams reach the Olympics.
With the matches taking place across a Fifa international date‚ Ndiraya will hope to have as all his local and foreign-based call-ups available‚ as he begins to build a team that can qualify for Tokyo 2020.
The confirmation of the technical team for the national Under-23 was among the several resolutions made the Zifa excecutive committee during their indaba yesterday.
In a statement, Zifa president Felton Kamambo (pictured) said the his board had also “unanimously agreed to renew Sunday Chidzambga’s contract as senior national team head coach.”
Chidzambga’s initial contract expired at the end of December last year and Kamambo last week said he wanted the contract issue to be resolved quickly so that the veteran coach would focus on his job.
Kamambo said his board was united ahead of a busy month where both the Warriors and Young Warriors’ will be in action on March 24 and March 22 respectively.
“The Zifa executive committee is united and will continue to work tirelessly for the growth and development of football in Zimbabwe. The executive committee remains focused and preparations for the upcoming senior national team and Under 23 matches are progressing smoothly. There is noticeable progress in the purchase of online tickets for the Zimbabwe versus Congo Afcon qualifier match and the executive committee urges fans to continue purchasing the tickets.
Replica jersey sales will commence in time for the big match,” he said.