Deputy Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE coach Ian Gorowa has resolved to use the international friendly against Mozambique at Barbourfields on Sunday to have a second look at the Warriors fringe players before finalising on his squad for the African Nations Championships.The Warriors will begin their preparations for the CHAN tournament when they date neighbours Mozambique in a game in which Gorowa has opted to give more attention to players who have been hovering on the brink of breaking into his regular side.
Gorowa yesterday announced a 24-man side which also includes unheralded Bantu Rovers midfielder Nqobile Khumalo and such uncapped players like Black Mambas defensive midfielder Convenience Hungwe and Shabanie Mine’s attacking midfielder Frankson Bushire.
The 41-year-old coach is also expected to name an enlarged squad of such regulars like skipper Masimba Mambare, Dynamos’ Tawanda Muparati, Hwange defensive rock Eric Chipeta and dreadlocked FC Platinum midfielder Charles Sibanda, which will go into camp ahead of the CHAN tournament.
Zimbabwe are the top seeds in Group B, which includes the Atlas Lions of Morocco, the Uganda Cranes and the Stallions of Burkina Faso.
The CHAN tournament will run from January 11 to February 1 with the Warriors getting their campaign underway with a cagey fixture against Morocco at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on January 12.
Gorowa opted to rest a host of players he has worked with on a regular basis since he succeeded German Klaus Dieter Pagels as Warriors coach in August.
The former Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns coach indicated that he would use the warm-up matches such as the tie against the Mambas to have a final look at some of the players he has been considering for national duty.
“The purpose of such matches like the one against Mozambique is for us to have a closer look again at some of the players who could make the grade in the national team and these are players who have been on the fringes and whom we could not use during the CHAN qualifiers or the last World Cup qualifier,’’ Gorowa said.
With uncertainty hanging over the availability of Premiership Golden Boot award winner Tendai Ndoro for the CHAN tournament, Gorowa wants to use Sunday’s match to also assess Triangle striker Misheck Mburayi.
Ndoro had been loaned back to Chicken Inn by South African side Mpumalanga Black Aces but the striker looks set to secure his international clearance and Absa Premiership permit before the CHAN tournament gets underway which would then rule him out of the competition.
Mburayi, and such players like Black Mambas right back Wonder Kapinda, got their first Warriors caps when they travelled to Dar-es-Salaam for a hastily-arranged friendly against Tanzania three weeks ago.
On Sunday, those fringe players will get another opportunity to impress Gorowa and his assistants — Dynamos’ Callisto Pasuwa and Mkhuphali Masuku.
But in a season where the entire Premiership has struggled to produce quality strikers, Gorowa and his assistants will have a tough time coming up with an attack that is sharp enough to make an impact at the CHAN tournament and propel the Warriors beyond the group stages.
In the game against the Mambas, who are expected to fly straight to Bulawayo tomorrow, Gorowa will also assess the attacking combination of
Lot Chiwunga of Black Rhinos and namesakes — Simba Sithole of How Mine and Dynamos’ Simba Sithole.
Gorowa, unbeaten since he took over as Warriors coach, opted to take the Warriors to Barbourfields after condemning the deteriorating condition of the artificial turf at Rufaro, which has become a threat to players’ limbs.
The Warriors coach, however, did chose not tinker with his goalkeeping area and called the Castle Soccer Stars finalists pair of George Chigova of DeMbare and Bosso’s Munyaradzi Diya.
There was room, too ,for Buffaloes defender Temba Ndlovu who partnered veteran Carlington Nyadombo in the 0-0 draw against Tanzania and Hwange’s Gerald Ndlovu while Highlanders’ winger Milton Ncube looks set to be tried as option for the left back position in the absence of DeMbare’s Ocean Mushure.
Goalkeepers: Munyaradzi Diya (Highlanders), George Chigova (Dynamos)
Defenders: Wonder Kapinda (Black Rhinos), Harldlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United); Milton Ncube (Highlanders) Themba Ndlovu (Buffaloes) Gerald Ndlovu (Hwange) Felix Chindungwe (Chicken Inn), Partson Jaure (Dynamos)
Midfielders: Nqobile Khumalo (Bantu Rovers), Convenience Hungwe (Black Mambas), Danny Phiri, Kuda Mahachi (Chicken Inn), Fackson Bushire (Shabanie Mine), Nkosana Siwela (Hwange), Pascal Manhanga (Triangle), Warren Dube (How Mine), Silas Songani (Harare City), Lot Chiwunga, (Black Rhinos, Ali Sadiki (FC Platinum), Bruce Kangwa (Highlanders)
Strikers: Misheck Mburayi (Triangle), Simba Sithole, (How Mine) Simba Sithole (Dynamos).