Zifa engage Govt over passports

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have engaged Government to help facilitate the application for Zimbabwean passports for players born or raised abroad for possible inclusion in the COSAFA Cup which gets underway in South Africa later this month.

The Warriors are considering some of their nationals based in Europe and Australia for the tournament.

Coach Sunday Chidzambwa has short-listed the likes of Tendayi Darikwa, Macauley Bonne, Andy Rinemhota, Thando Velaphi, Kundai Benyu, Adam Chicksen and Germany-based striker Kelly Lunga, the son of former Zimbabwe international Max Lunga.

Some of the players have featured for Zimbabwe in international friendlies.

Team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said they have since submitted documents to the Registrar-General’s office and have approached the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Recreation and the Sports Commission to help facilitate the process.

COSAFA have set May 20 as the cut-off date for all the participating nations to submit their squads.

“The coach has already come up with a long list of 40 players, but then we cannot announce the team at the moment. The issue of the passports remains the stumbling block.

“But, judging by the number of players in that situation, it is obvious these foreign-based players will have a bearing in the final squad.

“So we have already started the processes and with the new dispensation we don’t expect to encounter many bottlenecks like the case in the past.

“Hopefully, the Ministry will help us so that by Monday we would know exactly where we stand regarding these players.

“In fact, we thought it was an unnecessary expense to fly these guys in when their passports are not guaranteed,” said Mpandare.

The COSAFA Cup will run from May 27-June 9 in South Africa’s Limpopo province with all the 14 teams from the regional bloc taking part this year.

Zimbabwe, who are the defending champions, have been given a bye this year and will only start their campaign at the quarter-final stage.

“The Warriors are looking to use the tournament to prepare for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that will return in September.

Mpandare confirmed that some of the key national team players like Marvellous Nakamba, Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona were also being considered.

“The coach wants to give many players an opportunity. For instance, last time we had a team of locals against Botswana and before that we had mostly foreign-based players at the four-team tournament in Zambia.

“We expect to have a number of players who are new to each other and for that matter a week in camp will do. The good thing is we have been constantly in touch with the players.

“We expect our captain Knowledge to be in by the time we start camp, probably May 24, or thereabout. Nakamba’s team should be playing play-offs just around the same time and afterwards he should be coming back home.

“But Kuda Mahachi has not recovered from injury and might not be part of the team, the same with Teenage Hadebe, who picked a knock,” said Mpandare.

Zimbabwe will start their campaign on June 3 when they meet winner of Group B which comprise Angola, Botswana, Malawi and Mauritius.

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