Mukudzei Chingwere and Tadious Manyepo
THE Warriors’ three captains at the 2019 AFCON finals — Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru and Danny Phiri — lead a group of regulars who have been overlooked for the World Cup qualifier against Somalia next week.
Goalkeepers George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda have also not been considered for the two matches in what appears to be a decision by the ZIFA board to bar those they believe to have been leaders of mutiny in Egypt.
While Marvelous Nakamba, who made his Aston Villa debut in the Caraboa Cup against Crewe Alexandra last night, is said to have been excused, to allow him to settle at his new team, the others appear to be victims of a purge.
ZIFA announced recently that they have disbanded the Warriors, but said interim coach Joey Antipas will be allowed to choose any player he wanted to make the squad.
However, Antipas was given orders that some of the players, whom ZIFA blame for the chaos that dominated the Warriors camp in Egypt, should not be drafted into the team.
These players include the three leaders of the team during that tour of duty — Musona, Karuru and Phiri — and the two big goalkeepers, Chigova and Sibanda.
Although both ZIFA and the Warriors technical team agreed that this should be kept a secret, and the coaches should just say they were considering some new faces, the squad revealed yesterday exposes that secret pact.
While, in the past, the association have hosted a media conference to announce the squad, with the coaches and ZIFA officials taking questions from the media, this time they decided to issue just a statement.
The reason for that was that they could not address the questions related to the omission of some of the regular players.
“Joey Antipas told the ZIFA officials that they have to address that issue because it was their call and, in return, the ZIFA officials said the coaches should provide an explanation which didn’t trigger any controversy,’’ sources said.
“The coach felt it would be unfair for him to say something that wasn’t true because he knew these were not just fringe players and this is also a World Cup qualifier.
“So, there was a deadlock, but everyone knew that this issue would come up, the questions about why some of the regulars were not in the squad.’’
Antipas was limited, in his first selection of the Warriors, and ZIFA would be hoping the gamble doesn’t backfire badly because, in the event it does, it could have serious consequences.
The Warriors take on Somalia in Djibouti on Thursday next week.
Of the players who were with the Warriors in Egypt, and have not yet retired from international duty, almost half the squad that was at the Nations Cup has been overlooked.
These include Musona, Knox Mutizwa, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Talent Chawapiwa, Phiri, Karuru, Chigova, Sibanda and Jimmy Dzingai.
ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela yesterday rubbished the claims and said the association doesn’t interfere with national team selection.
“ZIFA takes pride in the independence of the coach. The coach uses his discretion in the selection of the national team and ZIFA don’t interfere with the selection of the national team.
“We respect the coach’s decision,” said Gwesela.
Antipas has thrown goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, who became a figure of both hate and ridicule after his nightmarish performance against the DR Congo in Egypt, an international football lifeline.
He was named in the squad for the match against Somalia and is likely to keep goal.
Chipezeze, together with Chapungu’s Talbert Shumba, are the only goalkeepers in the squad.
The Baroka goalminder’s was largely blamed for the Warriors’ 0-4 defeat at the hands of the DRC at the AFCON finals.
However, he has rediscovered top form at his club in South Africa with some man-of-the-match performances.
Leicester forward Admiral Muskwe wept uncontrollably when he got the news he had failed to make the grade to be part of the AFCON squad.
But, Antipas has handed him another chance.
Nakamba, who is still to get back to full fitness, has been excused so has Tafadzwa Kutinyu as well as Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa, who are nursing injuries.
France-based striker, Tino Kadewere, who has been scoring a lot of goals for his club Le Havre, has been duly included in the Warriors squad.
Antipas however, said he would have liked to include Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson, Everton’s Brendan Galloway, Kundai Benyu and McCauley Bonne, but the quartet are still not eligible as their papers are yet to be regularised.
“It is a balanced squad with a lot of youthful players which I believe need to be given a chance with the national team,’’ said Antipas.
“We want to have a broad selection of players and this is their chance to prove they deserve to be in the team.
“There are some players I would have wanted to see in the team, but unfortunately, we failed to include them because their papers are yet to be regularised.
“Players like Kundai, Reiss, Brendan and McCauley, we really wanted them to be part of the squad, but unfortunately we couldn’t.
“Some of the players could not be included because we only wanted 18 players to travel with, but those left behind will have a chance.”
Pressed on the absence of some regulars, Antipas said some of the questions should be directed to ZIFA officials.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Macclive Phiri (Highlanders), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn), Phenias Bamusi (Caps United), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre AC), Clive Augusto (Maritzburg United), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City), Evans Rusike (SuperSport United)