Ray Bande Senior Reporter
WARRIORS’ coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa has received the backing of soccer pundits and fans across the football divide following the announcement of a balanced provisional squad ahead of the crucial final Afcon qualifier against Congo Brazaville.
Mhofu, as he is fondly referred to by his totem by a legion of success starved football fans, announced a 30-men provisional squad to do national duty in the 2019 Afcon Group G qualifier to be played on March 24 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
The Zimbabwe senior men’s national team just needs a point to book a berth in the continental football showpiece.
In Mutare, the major talking point zeroed in on the ouster of Sakubva-bred Katsande.
Former captain Katsande, who came out of international retirement in November and went on to perform dismally against Liberia, was duly dropped.
The midfielder is replaced by Danny Phiri who missed the trip to West Africa due to an injury.
South African based entrepreneur and Mutare football benefactor James Lunga Meya, praised the efforts of team manager Wellington Mpandare in ensuring the nation reaches out to foreign based players in order to add depth in the squad.
“This is a balanced and very strong squad that is going to finish the job against Congo. It’s good to note that most of these players selected have been absolutely performing very well at their respective clubs in recent games played and we must give a lot of credit to our national team technical department.
“The technical department that also includes team manager Wellington Mpandare has shown determination and deserves our support. He has also managed to facilitate and convince overseas players to come and play for our country which is a good thing for our football and that must be appreciated a lot,” said Hwetu.
On Katsande’s omission, Hwetu said: “I think the issue of dropping Willard Katsande was more on the evaluation of players in their recent games and as we know Willard Katsande was injured and was not featuring more in the recent games while the likes of Danny Phiri are playing regularly but that doesn’t take away the fact that Willard Katsande has contributed a lot in our national football and in Mutare as a whole and is a motivation to all our youngsters in Mutare and he will surely bounce back soon in the squad.”
Staunch Mutare based Dynamos and Liverpool fan Munyaradzi Zinomwe praised Chidzambwa-led technical department for selecting a balanced squad.
“Well balanced selection. Good for the team that he stuck with his squad which has served us well since the opening games. Best assembled team. The coach has done his homework. It’s now over to Zifa to prepare thoroughly for the big match. Go Warriors go,” said Zinomwe.
Former Zimbabwe football administrator, Mwandibhuya Mutepfa, who is now based in Canada but closely follows events in domestic football, urged Zifa to ensure the team gets adequate preparations.
“I think Zifa must now ensure that the team gets adequate preparation. That has been our greatest weakness. I see nothing wrong with the squad announced by Mhofu and I hope things will work out for the good of the team,” he said.
Other notable names in the provisional selection include captain Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Evans Rusike, Marvelous Nakamba, Alec Mudimu and Teenage Hadebe.
Goalkeepers: Chigova George (Polokwane City), Sibanda Edmore (Witbank Spurs), Mhari Petros (FC Platinum)
Defenders: Lunga Divine (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Munetsi Marshall (Orlando Pirates), Hadebe Teenage (Kaizer Chiefs), Mudimu Alec (CEFN Druids), Darikwa Tendayi (Nottingham Forest), Dzingai Jimmy (Power Dynamos), Pfumbidzai Ronald (Bloemfontein Celtic), Murwira Godknows (FC Platinum)
Midfielders: Kutinyu Tafadzwa (Azam), Hachiro Richard (Herentals), Nakamba Marvelous (Club Brugge KV), Mahachi Kudakwashe (Orlando Pirates), Mavunga Leeroy (Yadah Stars), Musona Knowledge (KSC Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen), Karuru Ovidy (Amazulu), Ncube Butholezwe (Amazulu), Lunga Kelvin (SV Rodinghausen), Billiat Khama (Kaizer Chiefs), Phiri Danny (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Chawapihwa Talent (Amazulu)
Strikers: Kadewere Tinotenda (Le Havre AC) Rusike Evans (SuperSport United) Muskwe Admiral (Leicester City) Mutizwa Knox (Golden Arrows) Amidu Abbas (Arar)