RUBAVU - The Warriors have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their crucial African Nations Championships (Chan) Group D encounter against Mali on Saturday after defender Elisha Muroiwa was ruled out due to injury.
Muroiwa, who emerged as one of the key men for Calisto Pasuwa’s charges in the 1-0 defeat to neighbours Zambia in their opening tie, suffered a deep cut below his left eye after colliding with Zambian left back Stephen Kapamba in an aerial tussle.
The Dynamos defender, who did not take time to settle and had been a rock in the Warriors’ defence alongside Hardlife Zvirekwi, Lawrence Mhlanga and Ocean Mushure had to be replaced by Stephen Makatuka.
Muroiwa did not train yesterday after the doctors indicated that he needed at least three days to recover.
Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa yesterday acknowledged that Muroiwa’s absence was a big blow to his plans.
“I am very worried considering that until he got injured we had a solid defence,” Pasuwa said.
“The moment he went out we then conceded and we hope other guys will be able to fill the void. We are in a tournament and everybody should be ready to play, considering that we brought 23 players.”
Muroiwa has enjoyed the best form since joining Dynamos two seasons ago, establishing himself well in the centre of the DeMbare defence which eventually earned him a call-up to the national team. The Warriors suffered a 1-0 defeat to their neighbours Zambia and find themselves anchoring the group and needing to win their second Group D match against Mali.
The Warriors were thrown a lifeline after their other Group D opponents Mali and Uganda played out a 2-2 draw
But it is their match against Mali that is likely to determine whether the team will go through to the knockout stages.
At the 2014 Chan tournament in South Africa, Zimbabwe beat Mali in the quarter-finals and are hoping that history will repeat itself when they come face-to-face on Saturday. Zimbabwe finished fourth at the last edition.
The Warriors, who were then under the guidance of Ian Gorowa, lost the bronze medal play-off match to Nigeria.
The first edition of the Chan tournament was held in 2009 in Ivory Coast with DR Congo emerging as the champions.
The second edition was held in 2011 in Sudan where Tunisia emerged winners while Libya won the third edition in South Africa in 2013.