Six Asiagate players named in Warriors squad

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s 2013 African Nations Cup qualification quest received a major boost yesterday after seven more players were ruled eligible for selection after being cleared of match-fixing by the Independent Ethics Committee investigating the probe.

The seven players are goalkeepers Energy Murambadoro and Ephraim Mazarura, defender Lincoln Zvasiya, midfielder Justice Majabvi, as well as forwards Cuthbert Malajila, Kingstone Nkhata and Edward Sadomba.

The Warriors technical team, led by head coach Rahman Gumbo, immediately drafted six of the players in the provisional squad to play Angola in an epic final qualifier in Luanda next week.

Only Vietnam-based central midfielder Majabvi was not added to the initial 24-man squad announced last week.

“The Ethics Committee have said they are available,” Zifa president Cuthbert Dube told reporters at a press conference yesterday. “They said ‘you can use them if you want them’. I have given these names to the (Warriors) technical department. It’s now entirely up to the technical department to use them.”

Warriors manager Nyika Chifamba, who also addressed the press, said he was the happiest man in the world following the announcement.

Chifamba was particularly pleased with the availability of goalkeepers Murambadoro and Mazarura as well as strikers Malajila, Nkhata and Sadomba.

“I’m not saying the team had lacked anything. But any addition to the team is welcome.

“There are good players on this list who must be in the team. We know how they have been performing at their clubs, so they will be included,” Chifamba said.

“As you know, we have our captain (goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini), who is injured. It’s an area that was giving the coach headaches.

“The availability of two quality goalkeepers will solve the problem.”

Apart from the goalkeeper crisis, the Warriors were also facing serious problems upfront.
 
Zimbabwe had become heavily reliant on Germany-based kingpin Knowledge Musona since Asiagate claimed the scalp of the prolific Mamelodi Sundowns striker Nyasha Mushekwi.

Now, Gumbo has been spoilt for choice in that department following the exoneration of Nkhata and Malajila, who have been enjoying a good scoring streak in the opening stages of the South African Premiership for Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzurg United respectively, as well as Sudan-based Sadomba, who has also struck a rich vein of scoring form for Al-Hilal in the African Confederation Cup.

Commenting on the three forwards, Chifamba said: “Edward, Kingstone and Malajila, these are very quick players who will easily fit in the team and suit our style of play.”

Meanwhile, Zifa boss Dube has dismissed claims the pardoning of the players was a desperate measure in the association’s efforts to seal the Warriors’ passage to South Africa in January.

Zimbabwe carry a healthy 3-1 first leg lead to Luanda, needing to avoid a disastrous performance to seal passage to next January’s Afcon finals in neighbouring South Africa.

“We have been engaging the Ethics Committee behind the scenes, telling them that the nation is anxious to know the fate of Asiagate,” Dube told reporters.

“This is part of what they are giving us. We did not say these players we want them. It’s an independent commission.”

Asked when the probe report will be made public, Dube answered: “We are saying probably by next Wednesday. But it’s an independent committee; we leave it entirely to their discretion.”

Meanwhile, Zifa’s efforts to hold the Warriors’ training camp in South Africa have failed.

“There has been some confusion,” Dube said. “Camping will be done in Harare. We were looking at various options, after considerations we have settled for Harare.

“We were thinking of Ethiopia, Zambia, DRC, Malawi and so forth. We have settled for Harare.”

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