Rusike opts for Warriors

HARARE - Kaizer Chiefs forward Matthew Rusike yesterday declared his allegiance to Zimbabwe after joining the Warriors’ camp for tomorrow’s international friendly with Botswana.

The 22-year-year-old midfielder-cum-striker honoured his Warriors call-up after reports emanating from South Africa last week indicated that the Amakhosi star was facing a tough decision as he weighs up whether to commit his international future to Zimbabwe or South Africa.

Rusike, who was born and raised in Harare, has a Zimbabwean father and a South African mother and has represented his country of birth at youth international level.

Fifa rules stipulate that players can change national teams as long as they haven’t played a competitive fixture for a country at full international level, so those Young Warriors appearances would not rule out the Amakhosi star switching allegiance to Zimbabwe’s neighbours and rivals.

Yesterday, the former St Georges College student cleared the air on his international career.

“My mother is South African so I could still take up that and there were a lot of people who wanted me to play for Bafana Bafana,” Rusike revealed to Daily News yesterday.

“Since I am playing for a big club like Chiefs, my chances for a Bafana call-up were bright, but I am Zimbabwean and I am staying here.”

Rusike, who will be making his full international debut for Zimbabwe, is confident the new-look Warriors team will produce positive results.

“Of course, as you know, the team was disbanded and they are trying to bring up youngsters. It’s a good thing and I know a lot of people are talking about who has been left out, but it doesn’t matter who is playing because we are all playing for the country.

“We are all here to win. We are here for the same reason. Our first session was good and we hope the result will come our way on Wednesday.”

The Warriors trooped into camp on Sunday evening and got down to serious business yesterday with new coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels conducting his first training sessions with the team.

All players called up were present save for Denmark-based Quincy Antipas and new SuperSport United forward Rodreck Mutuma. Antipas has been ruled out with injury while Mutuma is still processing his papers at his new base.

Playmaker Archieford Gutu, who plays for Kalmar FF in Sweden, could not train with the team yesterday after joining camp late.

Talismanic striker Knowledge Musona and star winger Khama Billiat, who were part of the team that lost 2-0 to Angola in October to miss out on 2013 African Nations Cup qualification, trained yesterday.

Former Dynamos midfield magician Denver Mukamba, who completed his move to South African Premiership side Bidvest Wits, was also present alongside fellow South Africa-based players Washington Arubi, Gilbert Mapemba, Abbas Amidu and Tafadzwa Rusike.

While impressed with the response from the players, Pagels was concerned about the absence of Mutuma and Antipas, which he felt could disrupt his plans ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Egypt next month.

“We don’t have so many matches before we go to Egypt and it’s a problem but as a coach you have to work with what you have and I will work with these players around,” Pagels said.

German Pagels was roped into the Warriors set-up following the resignation of Rahman Gumbo after the former FC Platinum mentor failed to steer the Warriors to the Afcon finals in South Africa.

While the match against the Zebras will be low key in terms of Pagels’ expectations, it is the only chance he has to assemble a new team before his first competitive match in charge of the Warriors away to the Pharaohs on March 26. - Godknows Matarutse

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