Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach Callisto Pasuwa says he is hopeful the England-based pair of Brendon Zibusiso Galloway and Tendayi Darikwa will answer his call after the defenders were yesterday included in a strong 27-member squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tie against Swaziland later this month. Pasuwa, who is targeting six points in the back-to-back clashes with Sihlangu over the Easter weekend, has reached far and wide to come up with a squad that is composed of 10 local players, nine who play in South Africa and eight overseas-based players.
Skipper Willard Katsande leads the list that has regulars Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Partson Jaure, Eric Chipeta, Cuthbert Malajila, Matthew Rusike, Danny Phiri, Kuda Mahachi, Nyasha Mushekwi, Washington Arubi and Hardlife Zvirekwi.
The majority of the home-based players who featured at the Africa Nations Championship in Rwanda early this year have also been retained while invitations were also extended to Macaully Bonne, Costa Nhamoinesu and in-form Vitesse midfielder Marvelous Nakamba.
And it’s clear that Pasuwa has not given up on Burnley defender, Darikwa, who last year turned down the call when Zimbabwe were preparing for their assignment against Guinea.
The 24-year old, a target of many topflight teams in England including log leaders Leicester City, however has indicated early this year that ‘’I would consider any future approach from Zimbabwe or England.’’
Warriors team manager Sharif Mussa yesterday said he has been in contact with Darikwa and Galloway and they have shown interest to play for the Warriors although there were some issues that they wanted addressed.
Mussa did not specify their concerns.
“Obviously the coach’s job is to call up the players and ours is to follow that up so we are hopeful and confident that they will adhere to this call up.
“I have been speaking to them and indications are such that they just got one or two issues that they have mentioned but am sure they will sort that out. If not they will communicate again, in the event that they are unable to.
“But they are well aware of this call up,” said Mussa.
However, it remains to be seen if Everton leftback, Galloway who turns 20 next week, will choose the Warriors over the realistic prospects of playing for the England senior team.
The defender has represented England at youth level, playing the for the Three Lions’ Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 sides between 2012 and 2015.
He is still eligible for Zimbabwe if he decides, though, hence the latest bid by the Warriors technical team to lure him.
Galloway, who has been likened to former Manchester United and England centre back Rio Ferdinand due to his pace and comfort on the ball, was born in Harare in 1996.
He then moved to England with his family when he was only six.
The players are expected to start trooping in camp on Sunday, March 20, with the first leg slated for Friday March 25 away in Swaziland.
The return match is three days later in Harare.
The availability of the players will be a positive headache to Pasuwa who is aiming to collect six points over their opponents to bolster the Warriors campaign in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers.
Pasuwa also said the noise over alleged attempts by some unscrupulous elements to manipulate the Warriors matches have not affected his selection as he picked the best players available.
He said the challenge now is to make sure that the talk has not impacted negatively on his players.
“We need to talk to the boys, we need to psyche them up. We don’t have any evidence to say these boys did what is written here. So it’s the same players that we are calling who have committed themselves to play for Zimbabwe.
“There is no one whom I have been told not to call. If you look at the players that I have called here those are the players that I think of the five day that I have (for preparations) they are having game time. Also for the sake of continuation, we need some players who played against Malawi and Guinea.
“Like I have always done I have tried to call a balanced squad that mixes experience and youth. We need six points from Swaziland, so we should have to avoid putting pressure on the players.
“The good part is that its Swaziland and Zimbabwe who are at the top of the group and we need to collect points from each other. I think the mentally prepared team will have to walk away with the maximum points and be in a better position,” said Pasuwa.
Zimbabwe and Swaziland lead 2017 AFCON qualifiers Group L with four points apiece following the 2-1 win over Malawi in the opening match of the campaign and the 1-1 home draw with Guinea.
An away win in Swaziland in the first leg will see them three points clear at the top of the four-team table.
Team manager Mussa said they are looking to have the best possible preparation despite the limited time they have.
“Our game against Swaziland is away first in Swaziland and it’s on Friday, March 25, so we are working with the secretariat for the best itinerary, either leaving here on a Wednesday or Thursday. We are not yet sure on that.
“We are trying to work that out so that we get there in time to play our first game and if there are no flights to come back immediately after the match we would come back the following day and remain in camp for another day or so for the return leg in Harare,” said Mussa.
Goalkeepers – T. Mukuruva (Dynamos), D. Bernard (How Mine), W. Arubi (Pretoria University, SA).
Defenders – P. Jaure (Pretoria University, SA), H. Zvirekwi (CAPS United), E. Chipeta (Chippa United, SA), E. Muroiwa (Dynamos), L. Mhlanga (Chicken Inn), C. Nhamoinesu (Sparta Prague, Czech Republic), B. Kangwa (Highlanders), T. Darikwa (Burnley, England), B. Galloway (Everton, England), O. Bhasera (Wits University, SA).
Midfielders – W. Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), R. Chitiyo (Harare City), M. Nakamba (Vitesse, Netherlands), D. Phiri (Chicken Inn), K. Mahachi (Golden Arrows, SA), M. Mudehwe (FC Platinum), M. Bonne (Colchester, England), T. Kutinyu (Chicken Inn).
Forwards – K. Musona (KV Oostende, Belgium), N. Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang, China), C. Malajila (Sundowns, SA) M. Rusike (Helsingborgs IF, Sweden), E. Rusike (Maritzburg, SA), K. Billiat (Sundowns, SA).