Mhofu names squad. . . as Lunga, Muskwe make it for Congo tie

HARARE - Zimbabwe national team coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa stuck with the majority of the players who have been doing duty lately when he announced a provisional 28-man strong squad for the final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Congo later this month.

The Warriors host the Congolese Red Devils at the National Sports Stadium on March 24 hoping to seal a second straight qualification at the Afcon finals to be held in Egypt from June 15 to July 13, 2019.
The respected Warriors gaffer reckoned coming up with the provisional squad for the particular tie was a tough call as he found it difficult to drop some of the players.

Former skipper Willard Katsande and defender Kevin Moyo had no places in the squad built around talisman Knowledge Musona and equally gifted stars such as Marvellous Nakamba of Club Brugge, Tino Kadewere who plays for Le Havre AC in France as well as Alec Mudimu of CEFN Druids in Wales.

Zimbabwe have big prospects after the coach also included highly-rated Kelvin Lunga, who plays for Germany fourth-tier side SV Rödinghausen, and is expected to secure his passport upon his arrival for the match as his papers are in order.

However, there was no place for Macauley Bonne, who is being likened to Premiership’s Leicester City forward Jimmy Vardy by the British press, as he is reportedly reluctant to submit his papers for the process of securing a Zimbabwean passport.   

But Leicester’s Admiral Muskwe makes the grade alongside Khama Billiat, Danny Phiri, Kuda Mahachi, Tendayi Darikwa, Evans Rusike, George Chigova, Marshal Munetsi and Talent Chawapihwa.
Forward Abbas Amidu was probably the biggest surprise on the list that also had unheralded Amazulu midfielder Butholezwe Ncube.

Talented FC Platinum defender Godknows Murwira was also rewarded with a call-up mostly due to his exploits with Ngezi Platinum Stars last season which saw him making the grade on the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar.

Zifa president Felton Kamambo said his association is fully behind Warriors coach Chidzambwa and his technical team despite all of them operating without contracts. Chidzambwa’s contract expired at the end of last year while his assistants were also working without contracts.

“It’s true, his contract expired but as of now Chidzambwa remains the Warriors coach that’s why he is announcing the squad. We have a board meeting on Saturday and we will discuss that. In fact negotiations have been going on and we need to sort a few things,” Kamambo said.

Zifa board member, competitions, Chamu Chiwanza added: “The situation is that we inherited a system which had been going on for a very long time and to change it overnight is almost impossible. 
“So, we have put in place measures which will be endorsed by the board on Saturday. We are just polishing up the technicalities.”

Chiwanza also urged those who are willing to come and watch the match to buy their tickets in advance to avoid inconveniences on matchday.  Zifa are hoping that fans will come in their numbers and has already put tickets for the crucial tie on sale and fans will have to dig deep into their pockets for as much as $200 for the VVIP ticket.

Chidzambwa’s charges need at least a draw in their last match to seal a place at the Afcon finals as a defeat will see the Warriors missing out on head-to-head basis should the other match between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Liberia produce a winner.

All the four teams in Group G — Zimbabwe, Liberia, DRC and Congo still have a chance of qualifying for the tournament. Currently, Warriors top the group with eight points while Liberia are second with seven points. DRC are third with six while Congo anchor the group with five points from five matches.

Squad:
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: Devine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Marshal Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Jimmy Dzingai (Power Dynamos), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Godknows Murwira (FC Platinum)
Midfielders: Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Marvellous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Kuda Mahachi (Orlando Pirates), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Knowledge Musona (Sporting Lokeren), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Kelvin Lunga (SV Rodinghausen), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows), Talent Chawapihwa (Amazulu)
Strikers: Tino Kadewere (Le Havre AC), Evans Rusike (SuperSport United), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Abbas Amidu (Arar FC)  

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