Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach Joey Antipas yesterday said he had to leave out Evans Katema from the squad travelling to Lesotho for the final CHAN qualifier as he needed men who are 100 percent fit to do the job in Maseru on Sunday.
The Zimbabwe side are chasing a record fifth CHAN finals appearance at the 2020 edition in Cameroon.
But they have to overcome the last hurdle on Sunday against Lesotho.
The Warriors are expected to leave for Lesotho this afternoon via Johannesburg where they will connect to Maseru by road.
“We are quite confident with the squad that we have. Obviously, we would have wanted all our best players available but one of the key men Evans is not at 100 percent,’’ said Antipas.
“We all know what he is capable of doing and we had to call him into our squad following his recovery from that injury.
“But he last played competitive football a couple of weeks ago. We need everyone to be at 100 percent when going for such a battle.”
Katema was included in the 25-member training squad this week after recovering from an elbow dislocation he suffered during the preparations for the first leg which the Warriors won 3-1 at the National Sports Stadium last month.
Yadah winger Leeroy Mavhunga, who also missed the first leg with an ankle knock, was another casualty along with Ngezi Platinum goalkeeper Nelson Chadya, Nomore Chinyerere, Sipho Ndlovu, Juan Mutudza and Donald Teguru when the squad was announced yesterday.
Zimbabwe carry a healthy lead to the mountain kingdom but the job is not done yet.
They have been training at the artificial turf at the ZIFA Village this week to familiarise with the type of surface they will play on at the Setsotho Stadium in Maseru.
Midfielder Joel Ngodzo, who missed the early part of the campaign because his passport had expired, features after finally securing a new document.
But his teammate Ronald “Rooney’’ Chitiyo, who has been overshadowing Ngodzo in recent games, will consider himself unlucky not to make the squad.
Antipas also beefed up with defender Frank Makarati and midfielder Kelvin Madzongwe.
Lesotho sharpened up their preparations with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Malawi in an international friendly last weekend.
But, it came at a cost as Tsepo Toloane and Makara Ntaitsane have been withdrawn from the Likuena squad due to injuries.
Their coach Thabo Senong told The Lesotho Times it was still game on.
“I still believe we can do well, we can win the game. The away goal has given us hope,’’ he said.
“We just have to ensure that we play better in the attacking third, improve the confidence in the box and finish the chances that we create.
“We have been having extra sessions with our strikers to ensure they improve.’’
Warriors CHAN squad
Goalkeepers: Simbarashe Chinani (Dynamos), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders)
Defenders: Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Frank Makarati (Ngezi Platinum), Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), MacClive Phiri (Highlanders), Xolani Ndlovu (Chicken inn)
Midfielders: Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn), Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Ralph Kawondera (Triangle), Joel Ngodzo (CAPS United), Valentine Kadonzvo (Chicken Inn), Phenias Bamusi (CAPS United)
Strikers: Prince Dube (Highlanders), Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn), Wellington Taderera (Black Rhinos).