Petros Kausiyo in HARARE and Noel Munzabwa in MBABANE
ZPC Kariba gaffer Saul Chaminuka will, for the second time in as many assignments, take charge of Zimbabwe’s Young Warriors when the Under-23 side face Swaziland’s senior national team in an international friendly at Somhlolo Stadium in Lobamba tomorrow night (7pm). With head coach Callisto Pasuwa unable to secure a release from Dynamos, Chaminuka led the Young Warriors as they flew out of Harare yesterday morning via Johannesburg from where they took a bus trip to Mbabane and arrived in the mountain kingdom later on in the afternoon.
Chaminuka and his charges arrived here yesterday afternoon.
The Young Warriors were met at South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport by National Football Association of Swaziland officials and immediately undertook a 400km road journey aboard a luxury bus donated by SAFA.
At exactly 4pm the team was busy with the customs obligations at Oshoek Border Post before driving off to Lugogo Sun International situated in plushy Ezulwini where they checked in ahead of two training sessions set for tomorrow.
Team manager Patrick Muteswa said they expect a good match.
“We are here to play soccer and hopefully we will get the result. We appeal to the Zimbabweans living in Swaziland for them to come in numbers and give the boys all the support they need. To those that will come to support us and the Swazi soccer lovers our promise is we will showcase what we have on offer. So far we are happy with the hospitality accorded to us by the Football Association,” said Muteswa.
Pasuwa, who had expressed strong reservations about playing Swaziland as a sparring partner, could not be immediately released by the Harare giants as his assistant at Dynamos Philemon Mutyakureva is in Bulawayo attending a CAF B Licence course but there were indications later in the day that the Young Warriors mentor might yet follow his team to Swaziland just in time for tomorrow’s match.
While Pasuwa could not travel with the squad as he has to hold fort at DeMbare, there are no such problems though for Chaminuka at ZPC Kariba where his lieutenant Godfrey Tamirepi “is available to step in and prepare the team’’.
Pasuwa, however, picked the squad that travelled and together with his assistants, Chaminuka and Hwange’s Nation Dube, they opted to take a maximum of two players from most of the Premiership clubs and the move was aimed at also ensuring that none of the local sides would be prejudiced in their preparations at the delicate stage of the season.
The move meant that such players like FC Platinum striker Walter Musona, Dynamos goalkeeper Tendai Mukuruva and ZPC Kariba’s Keith Mavhunga did not make the travelling party.
They were replaced by the ZPC Kariba pair of Tonderai Mateyaunga and Terrence Gonzo and Pritchard Mwamba Mpelele from Hwange.
The Young Warriors will tomorrow night test their character against a Sihlangu outfit that will be playing for national pride and attempting to avoid the ignominy of losing to an Under-23 side from the Cosafa region. The Young Warriors coaches kept the core of the team that played against Zebras with CAPS United left-back and Young Warriors skipper Ronald Pfumbidzai, How Mine goalkeeper Donovan Bernard, Dynamos right-back Blessing Moyo and FC Platinum’s Wisdom Mutasa being retained.
Their next assignment is an away international friendly against Morocco on November 16.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said the association would ensure that the Under-23 team would be subjected to a number of friendly matches as part of their build-up to their qualifiers, which begin in February and appealed for corporate support.
Zimbabwe Under-23 Squad
Tonderai Leeroy Mateyaunga (ZPC Kariba), Bernad Donovan (How Mine) Blessing Moyo (Dynamos), Praise Tonha (Triangle) Liberty Chakoroma (Buffaloes), Lawrence Mhlanga (Chicken Inn), Njabulo Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum) Ronald Tapiwa Pfumbidzai (CAPS United), Nqobizitha Masuku (Bantu Rovers), Wisdom Mutasa (FC Platinum), Brian Muzondiwa (Black Rhinos), Pritchard Mwamba Mpelele (Hwange), Terrence Gonzo (ZPC Kariba), Emmanuel Mandiringa (How Mine), Gabriel Nyoni (Highlanders), Knox Mutizwa (Highlanders), Rodwell Carlos Rusere (DC Academy), Charles Tinashe Mukanhairi (CAPSUnited).