THE composition of the Zimbabwe national team set to compete at this year’s Cosafa Cup has elicited mixed reactions from football followers in Manicaland Province.
Zifa last Sunday announced a 25-man platoon, headlined by three overseas-based players–midfielders Jonah Fabisch (Germany), Nyasha Dube (United States of America) and goalkeeper, Martin Mapisa (Spain).
Seasoned Mutare-born shot-stopper, Washington Arubi has bounced back in the Warriors fold and is joined by four compatriots also plying their trade in South Africa – Ovidy Karuru, Evans Rusike, Knox Mutizwa and MacClive Phiri.
From footballers playing in Zambia and Tanzania, national team coach, Zdravko “Loga” Logarušic conscripted Jimmy Dzingai, Kelvin Moyo and Perfect Chikwende, respectively.
The bulk of the squad, however, was drawn from the domestic pool, part of which participated at the CHAN tournament in Cameroon early this year.
Some of the local players who shone in the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup also found their way into the team.
While it is conceded that there can never be a general consensus among the football fraternity when it comes to national team call-ups and final selection, debate has over the years always erupted each time the process is done.
And it was no exception this time around.
Nyakazai Makotore of Chipinge questioned the inclusion and omission of some players.
“I do understand how and why a player like Nyasha Dube, whom we know nothing about, was called up ahead of the likes of Denver Mukamba or Rodwell Chinyengetere who have been doing very well since we resumed football locally.
“I know the coaches have their own reasons, which they can easily and always justify, but the criteriaused to pick these players leaves a lot to be desired.
“I am sure it is not only me, but many other people must have been left wondering if proper scouting was done,” he said.
For Thomas Gwarain Nyanga, the blend of experienced and blossoming talent gives the squad a fine balance.
Said Gwara: “On paper, the team is okay. The experience of the likes of Arubi and Karuru is needed to provide leadership to newcomers like Fabisch and Dube if they make it for the tournament because the seasoned duo has been there before.
“Washy (Arubi) was brilliant in the just-ended season and Mapisa can benefit from his senior’s presence. Ovidy (Karuru) has won the cup before and even captained the side. This will come in handy to steady the ship as well as give direction.”
Continuity was key when Loga was considering the players to call up, Baldwin Chidzikzwe of Mutare reasoned.
“Remember Perfect(Chikwende) and Martin (Mapisa) had a run during the Afcon qualifiers and were good. So, it is important for them to be included in the squad to ensure continuity. Familiar faces like Knox (Mutizwa) and Evans (Rusike) were also necessary inclusions.
“On the whole, this gives the team stability without chopping and changing it because the rhythm stays intact by getting used to a certain routine,” said Chidzikwe.
Patricia Chitinha in Chimanimani and Mark Katungireni of Rusape were both in concurrence that whoever gets picked in the team deserves maximum support since they will be on national duty and representing the country.
“These are the players the coaches feel are the best for the assignment and can deliver. It will only be fair to judge the merits or otherwise of the squad at the end of the tournament, Otherwise, it is “Go Warriors Go!” said Chitinha, tipping Zimbabwe to be crowned champions again.
The Warriors have been gearing for battle, with preparations at their Harare base intensifying this week. They are set to leave for South Africa on Monday with a final 20-member team.
Zimbabwe get the ball rolling on Thursday against Mozambique, a day after the campaign kicks off. They face Namibia on July 11 before squaring off against guest nation, Senegal in the final Group C game on July 14 as they hunt for a seventh title.
The Cosafa Cup will run until July 17.
Warriors COSAFA Cup squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Washington Arubi (Marumo Gallants), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF)
DEFENDERS: MacClive Phiri (Sekhukhune United), Kelvin Moyo (Nkana), Carlos Mavhurume (CAPS United), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Lennox Muchero (Yadah Stars), Godknows Murwira (Dynamos), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Malvin Mkolo (Bulawayo Chiefs), Jimmy Dzingai (Nkana)
MIDFIELDERS: Blessing Sarupinda (CAPS United), Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), Shadreck Nyahwa (Dynamos), Brian Banda (FC Platinum), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Nyasha Dube (Little Rock Rangers), Jonah Fabisch (Hamburger SV), Ovidy Karuru (Black Leopards), Richard Hachiro (CAPS United)
STRIKERS: Farau Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Evans Rusike.