Mhofu names Cosafa squad

HARARE - Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa insists his sights are firmly on the resumption of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers scheduled for later this year after announcing a strong squad for this year’s Cosafa Castle Cup.

Chidzambwa said the Warriors were unlikely to have any international friendlies after the Cosafa Castle Cup, which kicks-off from May 27 to June 9 in South Africa with the World Cup set for next month, and it was important he gets a look at his star players in competitive matches.

And in coming up with his squad for the Cosafa Castle Cup, Chidzambwa blended youth and experience retaining the majority of players, who beat Liberia 3-0 last year in their Group G opener courtesy of a Knowledge Musona hat-trick.

Zimbabwe’s next competitive assignment is in September when they travel to Congo for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier second Group G game.

Musona heralds a least of stars that also includes Belgium-based Marvellous Nakamba, Khama Billiat, Tino Kadewere, Costa Nhamoinesu, George Chigova and Evans Rusike among other players, who will be available for the Cosafa Castle Cup.

Also in the squad are England-based Tendayi Darikwa of Nottingham Forest, Macaulley Bonne of Leyton Orient and Admiral Muskwe of Leicester City, who have already heed calls to play for the Warriors after featuring in international friendly matches last year.

“We are trying to build a strong team for the Afcon qualifiers. We are looking beyond the Cosafa Cup and that is the reason why we called all our best players,” Chidzambwa told the Daily News yesterday.

“We felt the Cosafa Cup provides us with the best opportunity to at least assess players we want for the Afcon qualifiers when it resumes in September. We might not get another opportunity to assess the players so we are utilising the Cosafa for that.

“If we progress to the finals that will be three matches which is a good test for the players.”

On their targets for the Cosafa Castle Cup, Chidzambwa said they are targeting to reach the finals.

“When you go into any tournament it’s good to be in the final. We would love to get to the finals,” Chidzambwa said.

“We are the defending champions and most of the teams would not make it easy for us. So we need to go there and work hard.”

Some of the local players, who made it into the provisional squad are goalkeeper Donovan Bernard, Liberty Chakoroma both from Ngezi Platinum Stars, Byron Madzokere from Yadah, Harare City’s Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Jameson Mukombwe from FC Platinum among others.  

Zimbabwe, who are the defending champions after winning last year’s tournament by beating neighbours Zambia 3-1 in the final, will begin their title defence in the quarterfinal stage after handed a bye.

Chidzambwa’s charges will take on winners of Group B, who comprises Botswana, Angola, Mauritius and Malawi on July 3 unlike in previous years where the Warriors had to start the competition in the group stages.

Group A consists of Madagascar, Mozambique, the Comoros and Seychelles with the winner meet South Africa in the quarter-final.

The other quarter finals pairings will see last year’s runners-up Zambia take on Namibia while Lesotho have been drawn to face Swaziland.

South Africa and Zimbabwe will meet in the semi-finals of this year’s competition if they advance past their respective first hurdles.

Cosafa 2018 Provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs), Donovan Bernard (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Chang Mariyoni (Triangle)

Defenders: Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Jameson Mukombwe (FC Platinum), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Harare City), Costa Nhamoinesu (AC Sparta Prague), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Honest Moyo (Highlanders), Adam Chicksen (Bradford city)

Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Andy Rinomhota (Reading), Kundai Benyu (Oldham Athletic), Abbas Amidu (Entag El Harby), Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Singida United), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge)

Strikers: Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende), Evans Rusike (Supersport United), Macaulley Bonne (Leyton Orient), Tinotenda Kadewere (Djurgardens IF), Kelly Lunga (Bonner SC), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City)

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