Mapeza gambles on injured Billiat

HARARE - Injred Warriors talisman Khama Billiat has been included in the squad for next month’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia at home.

The Mamelodi Sundowns forward is part of a 25-man squad released by interim coach Norman Mapeza yesterday.

There were fears Billiat might miss the game at the National Sports Stadium on June 11, after suffering an ankle injury recently.

Billiat missed his team’s African Champions League 1-3 win over DR Congo  side AS Vita on Wednesday.

However, Warriors interim team manager Wellington Mupandare said the forward’s injury is not as bad as feared before and should be ready for the crucial encounter. “I spoke to Khama and ... he will be here on Sunday,” Mupandare told reporters.

“He said he is okay, the injury is not serious. He just needs a few days to recover. I just asked him to bring his medical report with him…but we hope he will be ready for the game.”

The Warriors will have to negotiate a tricky passage to be at the 2019 Afcon finals in Cameroon after they were pooled in Group G alongside DR Congo, Congo and Liberia.

Only one team from the 12 groups will earn a ticket to the continental’s biggest football showcase.

The hosts are guaranteed a place with three best runners-up also set to qualify.

In announcing the squad, Mupandare said the team is expected to be in camp next Monday where they will negotiate contracts with players before getting down to serious work on Tuesday.

“We are going into camp on Monday. We will start training the following day because Monday we will be just doing the logistics with the players. We want them to sign contracts before we could start training,” he said.

“Players need to know how much they will get on daily basis, the winning bonuses among other things. We are doing this so that if a player is not comfortable with that then they are free to go back to their clubs.”

Mupandare said all the selected players were picked on merit as the coach did not receive any instruction from the Zimbabwe Football Association not to select players who allegedly led the rebellion before their departure to Gabon.

“All the players that have not been called were left out due to football reasons because in as far as I am concerned we never received any communication to the effect of not picking certain players,” Mupandare said.

“So those that have been left probably they don’t suit the coach’s plans.”

In picking his squad, Mapeza left out Kaizer Chiefs hardman Willard Katsande, who captained the team at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon.

There was also no place for some regulars like Cuthbert Malajila, Matthew Rusike and Nyasha Mushekwi, who were also perceived to be responsible for the boycott before the 2017 Afcon.

But there were surprises as Black Rhinos defender Sydney Linyama and his teammate Jameson Mukombwe made their way into the team on the back of their team’s impressive start to the 2017 season.

There was also another surprise inclusion of Ovidy Karuru who last played for the Warriors some five years ago.

ZIM Squad: Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda (CAPS United), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)

Defenders: Dennis Dauda (CAPS United), Partson Jaure (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Onismo Bhasera (SuperSport United, SA), Teenage Hadebe (Chicken Inn), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Eric Chipeta (Ajax Capetown, SA), Sydney Linyama (BlackRhinos)

Midfielders: Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans, Tanzania), Devon Chafa (CAPS United), Simon Shoko (FC Platinum), Kudakwashe Mahachi ( Golden Arrows, SA), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA), Marvelous Nakamba (Vitesse Arnhem, NED), Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows, SA), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu, SA), Ronald Chitiyo (CAPS United)

Strikers: Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates, SA), Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United, SA), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende, Belgium), Prince Dube (Highlanders)

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