WARRIORS coach Zdravko Logarusic is believed to have opted for familiar faces save for Luton town defender Brendan Galloway ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia next month.
Galloway, the Harare-born former England youth international who was talked into choosing to play for Zimbabwe by the Croat, is tipped to make a debut for the country in the World Cup qualifiers.
However, there is still uncertainty over the England-based players, who missed out on the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia due to the stringent Covid-19 regulations enforced by British authorities for entrance into their country.
Hopes are high that the Europe-based players will be available especially considering that most of the European leagues would have concluded.
And their availability would see a big change from the team that was used in the final two Afcon qualifiers in March.
“Preparations for the World Cup qualifiers started soon after the Zambia match and we have already sent invitations to the players that the coach wants for the upcoming matches. It’s predominantly the familiar faces except for Galloway, who recently got his Zimbabwean passport and there won’t be any new faces,” Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare told Standardsport.
Loga named a bloated 38-man squad for the Afcon qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia including six British-based players, who were barred by their respective clubs from taking part.
The players are Marvelous Nakamba, Tendai Darikwa, Admiral Muskwe, Jordan Zemura, David Moyo and Galloway.
The United Kingdom put 33 countries, which they deem high risk areas in terms of coronavirus variants under a red list and Zimbabwe and Argentina are included in that bracket.
Other foreign-based players, who could not make it include Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Tatenda Mkuruva, Romario Matova and Tendai Jirira.
“When we played Algeria last year, Fifa ordered clubs to release players for the matches and this year they gave the clubs the power to hold on to players if need be, but it was for those particular matches.
“And for the upcoming matches Fifa hasn’t said anything, but we are confident that they would want all the players to take part in the World Cup qualifiers. And this time around it will be the off-season so we don’t see any challenges arising,” Mpandare said.
Mpandare also spoke about the US-based Zimbabwean defender Eddie Munjoma who made his Major League Soccer debut last weekend for FC Dallas.
“We have not considered him yet because he is quite a new name to us. The coach is looking at him and it might take a bit of time before a decision can be made, but he might be considered in future,” he said.
The Warriors squad will be announced in a couple of weeks when Logarusic returns to Zimbabwe from his native Croatia.
Loga, who was expected in the country yesterday, is now scheduled to arrive on May 11 to begin World Cup preparations in earnest.
Meanwhile, the venue for the country’s first Group G World Cup qualifier against South Africa remains unknown barely a month before the two countries clash.
Zimbabwe are supposed to host the match, but Zifa was recently fined US$2 000 by Caf for technical infractions noted at the National Sports Stadium during the Afcon tie against Zambia with the continental body citing absence of bucket seats and general uncleanness.
This raised speculation that Caf might lift the temporary approval for the use of the venue for international games.
“We have submitted all the necessary documents from video and photographic evidence as part of the re-inspection report and they said they will get back to us in due course,” Zifa communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela said.
“It should be noted that there have been massive improvements at the stadium, which shows that the government is committed to renovating it. It is also our plea that they move with speed to install bucket seats,” he added.