Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza could extend an invitation to England-based hotshot forward, Macauley Bonne, ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, next month.
Zimbabwe have a date against South Africa, and Ethiopia, in their final two dead rubber qualifiers. The Warriors are already out of the running but they have already shifted their focus to next year’s AFCON finals in Cameroon, between January and February.
Team manager, Wellington Mpandare, told The Herald the upcoming World Cup matches will be key for the coach since they have less than three months to prepare for the continental football jamboree.
Zimbabwe are set to travel to Johannesburg, tentatively on November 11, before wrapping up the campaign at home against Ethiopia, three days later.
“We have already started the process of identifying players,” said Mpandare.
“We have thousands of players that are eligible to play for Zimbabwe but the coach can only settle for the best.
“So, he is following up and monitoring all the eligible players.
‘’Like what he said before, all the players who deserve will be given the chance.”
And, Bonne is one of the players on the radar.
He has been in top form at English League One side, Ipswich Town.
The forward was in the headlines again this week, after he scored his 10th league goal, in 12 starts.
Bonne is on loan from Championship side, Queens Park Rangers, and there are indications he could be recalled by his parent club, during the January window.
“Bonne is a player that every other Warriors coach had wanted to have in his team. Callisto Pasuwa tried to woo him but he didn’t succeed in getting him,’’ said Mpandare.
“Then there was Sunday Chidzambwa, Joey Antipas, (Zdravko) Loga.
‘’Now that we have a new coach, if Mapeza also indicates he wants him, then the ball again is in the player’s court.
“Of course, we understand he has faced challenges in the past but every time we put the invitation through to him we are always hopeful.”
Mapeza was appointed as interim coach last month ahead of the back-to-back clashes, with the Black Stars of Ghana.
The Warriors lost the first match 1-3 in Ghana. Their campaign in Group G was brought to an end, when they crashed to a 0-1 home defeat to the Black Stars, in the return leg, at the National Sports Stadium.
Mapeza indicated after the match that he would drop some players who did not perform to expectations.
Others, like Tino Kadewere and Divine Lunga were not available, because of injuries.
He is also likely to include more local players, when the squad is announced, in the coming weeks.
There are a number of players who have been doing well in the Chibuku Super Cup, which is now approaching the quarter-final stage.