BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambga is bracing for a selection headache as he prepares to trim the current 34-member provisional squad to the final 23 for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals during the nation’s participation in the Cosafa Cup.
Zifa opted to use Cosafa as a platform for Afcon preparations, hence the recent announcement of an enlarged provisional squad.
And the Warriors technical team insists that they will use Cosafa to select the players who will represent the country at Afcon, but a decision should be made just before the June 8 friendly against Nigeria.
The question is: Who among the big names will be axed for the Afcon squad? It’s a question that Chidzambga simply dodged when the Warriors began camp last week.
“We will not be dropping any players now, we are taking 34 players to South Africa and then from there, 18 players will travel to Nigeria to play the friendly encounter. And then since we are going to play at least three games in South Africa, the other 15 players will remain behind to fulfil the third game,” was all the veteran gaffer told reporters.
Looking at the squad that was named, competition for places is stiff in the midfield with 14 top players having been called into camp.
Regulars such as captain Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Marshall Munetsi, Marvelous Nakamba, Ovidy Karuru, Talent Chawapihwa Danny Phiri, Kudakwashe Mahachi and Tafadzwa Kutinyu are front runners to get the nod.
But it would be difficult to ignore players like Butholezwe Ncube, Tanzania-based Thabani Kamusoko, Tafadzwa Rusike, Richard Hachiro, Leeroy Mavunga and Rodwell Chinyengetere.
Chidzambga seemed to have taken a liking of Kamusoko when the team played a friendly match against Division 2 side Golden Eagles on Thursday, picking him in
the first team.
The team also had Ronald Pfumbidzayi and Lawrence Mhlanga as fullbacks, while Byron Madzokere and Wales-based Alec Mudimu occupied central defence.
Ncube also made a start, which could mean that he is also another player Mhofu would want to take to Afcon.
There is likely not going to be many surprises in defence with Dennis Dauda, Mhlanga, Jimmy Dzingai, Madzokere, Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Divine Lunga, Pfumbidzai and Tendai Darikwa vying for the Afcon ticket.
Only two — possibly from Dauda, Madzokere and Dzingai — are likely going to miss out on Afcon.
Upfront with Macauley Bonne looking unlikely to join the team, Nyasha Mushekwi, Evans Rusike, Tinotenda Kadewere, Knox Mutizwa and Admiral Muskwe should make the 23-member squad.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are set to leave the country for the Cosafa tournament on Tuesday, with Chidzambga vying for a fifth title as Zimbabwe coach.
Despite holding the record for most titles by a coach at the regional championships, Chidzambga seems to have an insatiable desire for the tournament.
“As a coach, if you play any tournament, the target is to win and I would like to win or get to the final in each and every tournament we play and lifting the Cosafa Trophy will be a record. So, I would love to win the Cosafa and also get past the group stages in the Afcon,” Chidzambga said.
The Warriors are overwhelming favourites for a record seventh Cosafa Cup and according to Chidzambga, all the players in the provisional squad will get a run.