Depleted Warriors depart

HARARE - One of the weakest Zimbabwean football teams ever assembled leaves the country this afternoon for a tough World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria on Tuesday, with the players arriving in batches.

In an unusual travel arrangement, Warriors coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels and his technical bench will leave Harare with just nine locally-based players.

The players plying their trade in South Africa, including captain Denver Mukamba, will link up with their teammates in Addis Ababa before connecting to Cairo later today.

The Europe-based trio of striker Knowledge Musona, playmaker Archieford Gutu and winger Ovidy Karuru will fly directly from their bases to Egypt.

Meanwhile, Highlanders forward Masimba Mambare has spoken of his delight at earning a Warriors call-up for the tough qualifier.   

 Mambare comes into the Warriors squad as a direct replacement for Moroka Swallows fullback Gilbert Mapemba, who has been side-lined by a knee injury.

"Playing for the national team is one of the biggest goals of any player and I'm no different. I’m happy because the coach continues to show confidence in me,” Mambare told the Daily News yesterday.

 “I would like to thank the coach and his team for showing faith in me, I promise I will not disappoint.

 “Zimbabwe has many good players who can easily play for the national team but for the coach to select me, it means a lot. I will learn a lot from the experienced players in the team and I am very happy.”

 Mambare, voted the country’s second best footballer last year, called on his teammates to remain focused even when all odds appear heavily stacked against them.

After two games in Group F, Zimbabwe lies third in the pool with just a single point from the 0-0 draw with Mozambique last year.

 “New stars are being born every day, so we must not lose hope. We simply need to put past failures at the back of our minds and commit all our energies to future campaigns,” he added.

The Warriors, who are going through transformation following the conclusion of a probe into a world-famous match-fixing scandal and shattering failure to qualify for the 2013 African Nations Cup, began life under the German national with a promising 2-1 friendly win over Botswana on February 6.

Egypt currently lead the group with a maximum six points from two games while Guinea are in second place with three points.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi, Maxwell Mupanedengu.

Defenders: Patson Jaure, Ocean Mushure, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ocean Mushure, Lincoln Zvasiya, Augustine Mbara.

Midfielders: Denver Mukamba (captain), Archieford Gutu, Silas Songani, Ronald Chitiyo, Khama Billiat, Ovidy Karuru, Masimba Mambare, Tafadzwa Rusike.

Forwards: Knowledge Musona, Rodreck Mutuma. - Sports Writer

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