Warriors begin Afcon preps

HARARE - The Zimbabwe national football team will get down to serious business today when they begin preparations for the 2015 African Nations Cup preliminary round qualifiers against Tanzania at the weekend.

The Warriors squad, which is dominated by locally based players, was scheduled to get into camp last night and will hold their first training session this morning ahead of their scheduled departure on Thursday.

Warriors coach Ian Gorowa has kept faith in the majority of his locally-based players who reached the semi-finals of the 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan) in South Africa earlier this year.

The most-notable foreign-based players are University of Pretoria goalkeeper Washington Arubi, Mamelodi Sundowns striker Cuthbert Malajila, Kaiser Chiefs forward Kingston Nkhatha as well as Ajax Cape Town’s Simba Sithole.

Gorowa was unable to call up a number of the Warriors’ foreign-based contingent after the world football governing body, Fifa declared that the qualifiers fell out of their international calendar.

Clubs do not have the obligation to release their players for these qualifiers which left most associations having to negotiate with some clubs.

In a statement Fifa said: “Release of players is only possible upon mutual agreement between the national associations and the clubs to which the players belong.  There is no obligation for the clubs to release their players on these dates." 

The Warriors have been pooled in Group F but will first have to win play-offs between Tanzania and the winner between Mozambique and South Sudan for a place in the Group stages, where Zambia, Cape Verde and Niger lie in wait.

The Warriors face Tanzania on the weekend of May 16 to 18 before the return leg on May 30 to June 1.

The group stages will only start around September with seven groups of four teams playing a round robin format where the top two finishers will then qualify for Afcon 2015 in Morocco.

The seven group winners, seven group runners-up and the best third-placed side will qualify directly for the final tournament.

The final tournament will be played from January 17 to February 8 in Morocco next year.

Meanwhile, new Tanzania coach Mart Nooij will have to do battle without the nation’s leading strikers, TP Mazembe duo of Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu.

Mazembe refused to release Samata and Ulimwengu for the first round of qualifiers, as the match against Zimbabwe clashes with the Democratic Republic of Congo side’s African Champions League group stage match against Al Hilal Omdurman.

The absence of the striking pair, who have been the recent source of goals for the Taifa Stars at the moment, is a massive loss for Nooij, who watched his side fail to find the back of the net as they played out a goalless draw with Malawi in an international friendly last week.

There was, however, good news for the Dutchman after Qatar-based midfielder Mwinyi Kazimoto has arrived in Tanzania last week to beef up the taifa Stars squad.

Mwinyi is the only overseas player who has honoured Taifa Stars call-up.

"Mwinyi Kazimoto arrived and is today (yesterday) expected to travel to Tukuyu, Mbeya region to join the national team which is camping under head coach Mart Nooij ahead of the match," Tanzania Football Federation's spokesperson Boniface Wambura told reporters in that Tanzanian media.

Zim squad: George Chigova, Washington Arubi, MunyaradziDiya, HardlifeZvirekwi, Eric Chipeta, PartsonJaure, Sydney Linyama, Milton Ncube, Ronald Pfumbidzayi, Willard Katsande, NqobizithaMasuku, Danny Phiri, PascaManhanga, Stephen Alimenda, Peter Moyo, Marshall Mudewe, Talent Chawapihwa, KudaMahachi, TendaiNdoro, SimbaSithole, Kingston Nkhatha, Cuthbert Malajila.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.