Covid attacks Warriors again Xolisani Gwesela

Eddie Chikamhi

Senior Sports Reporter

FOR four members of the Warriors, another sad chapter has been added to their miserable CHAN campaign, after they were forced to remain behind in isolation in Cameroon.

The four tested positive for coronavirus and were forced to remain in Yaounde as the rest of the squad returned home yesterday.

The Warriors slipped quietly into the country after they lost all their matches in Group A.

They became the side to be eliminated from at the 16-team tournament that is exclusively set for players who ply their trade in domestic leagues.

ZIFA yesterday confirmed there had been positives tests in their delegation and the players and officials will be quarantined in Cameroon until they recover.

“ZIFA confirms that four members of the CHAN delegation tested positive to Covid-19 and have remained quarantined in Cameroon,’’ said association spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela.

“Meanwhile, other members of the delegation are now in the country.

“We wish quick recovery to all the affected players and officials.’’

ZIFA, however, could not divulge the names of the affected members although it is believed assistant coach, Tonderayi Ndiraya, goalkeeper’s coach Zivanai Kawadza and two players Qadr Amini, and Farawo Matare of Bulawayo Chiefs, were the affected individuals.

This is not the first time the Warriors have found themselves in a Covid-19 crisis.

They were hit by new infections during the tournament after about three players tested positive ahead of the game against Burkina Faso leaving coach Zdravko Logarusic with a heavily-depleted squad.

ZIFA did not comment about those developments but the players were put in isolation, in accordance with the health guidelines.

Prior to their departure for Cameroon, the team’s training camp for the tournament was thrown into disarray, after 14 members tested positive for Covid-19.

Nine players and five officials returned positive tests upon their return from the Christmas holidays, forcing ZIFA to cancel their training camp.

The players and officials showed no symptoms at the time and they have all since recovered.

The CHAN tournament was played in the giant shadow of the global pandemic which has so far topped 100 million cases and killed over two million people worldwide.

It was the first major football tournament played since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Zimbabwe were in Group A and they came back home from this tournament, without a point, for the first time.

The Warriors were beaten 0-1 by hosts Cameroon in the opening match.

They then lost 1-3 to Burkina Faso before succumbing to a 0-1 loss at the hands of Mali in last Sunday’s dead rubber.

As the first big football festival since the Covid -19 outbreak, the Cameroon government and CAF agreed to put in place strict measures to avoid the spread of the disease.

Checks started before the participating teams left their countries where they were supposed to take mandatory PCR tests.

The delegations were tested again on arrival and ZIFA confirmed the Warriors had a clean bill of health.

To safeguard the health, and safety of the participating players and officials, CAF and FIFA announced new rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Unlike in the past, when players would share hotel rooms to cut costs, this time each player was booked in his own room.

CAF also gave the participating member associations the leeway to take 10 more players, on top of the usual 23, as a fall back plan, in case any of the players in the squad caught the virus.

The players were also tested regularly and it was mandatory for them to go through the PCR process 48 hours before every match.

The attendance by supporters was also limited to 25 percent of the stadium capacities, for the group stages, with all health protocols like the wearing of masks, maintenance of social distance expected to be observed every time.

Meanwhile, Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, returned home to some good news after the misery of his fruitless campaign in charge of the home-based crop at the CHAN finals in Cameroon.

The Croat cut a frustrated figure in both Yaounde and Douala, where the Warriors played their three CHAN finals matches, with his men only finding the target once in the 1-3 defeat at the hands of Burkina Faso.

Dynamos captain, Partson Jaure, scored the only goal for the team with all the men, whom Loga took on board to provide the goal-scoring threat in this adventure, firing blanks.

However, as he starts to turn his focus to the AFCON qualifiers, set to resume in March this year, Loga must have been cheered by the form of some of the key men likely to feature for the Warriors.

Tino Kadewere scored a brace for his French Ligue 1 side, Olympique Lyon, at the weekend as he continues to impress in his first season in one of European’s football Big Five top-flight leagues.

And, yesterday, attacking midfielder, Ovidy Karuru, who has been enjoying a new lease of life since arriving at unfashionable South African Premiership side, Black Leopards, was on target for Lidoda Duvha.

Karuru was one of his team’s fine performers as they went blow-for-blow with serial champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, only for them to concede a last-minute goal and lose 1-2 at the Thohoyandou Stadium.

The Zimbabwean midfielder thrust the hosts into the lead, just after the restart, timing his run to perfection to drill the ball home at the back post.

However, a double by Peter Shalulile, including the winner in time added on, meant the Brazilians took home all three points to a open a three-point gap at the top of the table. The visitors showed the character which has made them the dominant side in South Africa, in recent years, as they found a way to deal with the 66th minute dismissal of centreback Mothobi Mvala and still find the winning touch.

Leopards, who were playing their first game under caretaker coach, Lehlohonolo Seema, just two days after another coach Dylan Kerr was forced out of the club, appeared to have done to get, at least, a point.

And, they powered ahead just after the break when Roderick Kabwe’s ball across the danger area was poked home by Karuru for his fourth goal at his latest club.

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