BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
WITH the 2022 World Cup qualifiers initially scheduled for early next month postponed, Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić has shifted focus to the Cosafa tournament in July, with fringe players, including Leicester City midfielder Tawanda Masvanhise, set to be given an opportunity to shine in national team colours.
Masvanhise, who has been playing for the Leicester City development side, was handed a place in the senior team squad on Tuesday night, where he was an unused substitute in their 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
And Logarušić is said to be keen on giving a number of fringe players a chance during the regional tournament, with Masvanhise expected to be called up.
Wellington Mupandare, the national teams’ general manager yesterday said the coach had been monitoring a number of players whom he wants to call up for the Cosafa tournament.
“As you are aware, the World Cup qualifiers were cancelled and the focus is now on the upcoming Cosafa tournament in July. The team that will play in the tournament is currently being assembled and it will feature some fringe Warriors players,” he said.
“The coach wants to give those players a chance to prove themselves. Those that will be called up might include the likes of Tawanda Masvanhise and Thuso Nyoni, who plays in Poland.
“The coach is monitoring several of these players including those that were called up for the last Afcon qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia. The home-based players too will be considered.”
The regional tournament comes at a time when most leagues in Europe and several other continents will be on an off-season break, which gives the coaches wider selection options.
However, Logarušić is more interested in fringe players than the regular members of the team for this tournament which kicks off on July 2.
Those that are likely not to take part in the Cosafa tournament include the likes of skipper Knowledge Musona, Marvelous Nakamba, Marshal Munetsi and Khama Billiat, among several others.
There had been a proposal to have the Warriors play a warm-up game when the 15-day international break commences on May 31.
However, Zifa had on the advice of the coach suspended plans to arrange international friendly matches for the Warriors on the basis that they were too close to the crucial encounter against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and would subject his players to injuries.
The Warriors were scheduled to host Bafana Bafana on June before travelling to Ethiopia.
World soccer governing body Fifa, however, postponed those qualifiers to next year.
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