Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter
BLACK RHINOS captain Farai Banda will skipper the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Select football team which will do duty against their Botswana counterparts at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
The ZDF Cup match will cap the festivities lined up at the giant venue as the country commemorates the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day.
Veteran gaffer Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera trimmed his squad to 18 from the provisional team which was in camp for the past fortnight.
And Banda has been given the nod to lead the team which is aiming to mark the return of the ZDF Trophy in two years with yet another victory.
Banda said it is an honour to be selected to captain a team that comprises both youth and experience.
He called upon Zimbabweans to converge at the National Sports Stadium for the celebrations today.
“Let me say I am humbled by the decision of the technical team to give me the responsibility of leading the team.
“It means they have seen something in me and I am delighted to be part and parcel of the squad,” said Banda.
“I am calling upon my teammates to pitch up for the match, play to their abilities, display an entertaining game and make Zimbabweans happy.
“Tomorrow (today) is a very special day for the country and we ought to spice-up the celebrations with a win in our match.
“The team from Botswana is very competitive. They have some of the best players in that country and we should be at our best.
“We will go into the match with both caution and urgency. The idea is to be very interesting to watch and do what we need to do to win.
“We have a good squad which can beat any team at any given time.
“This is a match we can’t afford to lose. This is motivating us as a team. We know what is required of us. The Zimbabweans, who will throng the stadium, will enjoy the match. It’s our day, it’s our time and we need to do justice in the field of play.”
Consisting of veterans like Philip “Baccossi” Marufu and Collin Kwaramba, the squad is made up of players who are from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces but playing at different teams in the local leagues.
Although in previous editions of the popular match, the players have mostly been picked from Air Force of Zimbabwe side Chapungu and Black Rhinos, the flagship team of the Zimbabwe National Army, this time the technical team has looked beyond just the two.
The pair of Manica Diamonds players Lloyd Katongomara and Takunda Jeffrey as well as Triangle’s Jameson Mukombwe have also been selected.
Saruchera hailed the ZDF for putting together the match following a two-year Covid-19-enforced hiatus.
“I would like to salute the authorities for bringing back the contest. We have been missing this match due to the pandemic but the authorities made sure we get to enjoy this year as we celebrate our day,” said Saruchera.
“I think we have selected a competitive group of players. We have looked at every player who is part of us and given them the chance to impress.
“We are ready for the challenge and beautiful football is what we are going to dish out as Zimbabweans get to enjoy the day from morning.
“We also need to make sure the trophy remains home. We have done our preparations well, thanks to the authorities and it’s now up to us to deliver. This is a crucial international match and there is a lot at stake. The players know they have to impress and win the game. We have done everything we can at training and it’s up to them to deliver in the field. We can’t spoil the day for Zimbabweans who would have spent the day being treated to a lot of entertainment.”
Saruchera is being assisted by Chapungu gaffer Clemence Zuze as well as Black Rhinos deputy mentor Charles Mutero with Brighton Chandisaita the fitness trainer.
ZDF Select Squad
Herbert Rusawo, Blessing Mwandimutsira, Jameson Mukombwe, Farai Banda, Philip Marufu, ,Douglas Mbewe, Gracious Muleya, Blessed Mbavarira, Collin Kwaramba, Kelvin Chiripawako, Wonder Kapinda, Lloyd Katongomara,Takunda Jeffrey, Yemi Matembedza, Leroy Benard,Maxwell Mavhuto ,Brighton Mugoni, Pride Mukombwe.