Ray Bande Senior Reporter
FIVE of Manica Diamonds’ players might eventually find themselves donning the gold and white or green Warriors’ stripe doing national duty in Cameroon after they were shortlisted for the provisional CHAN squad.
Zimbabwe will battle it out in the CHAN finals in Cameroon next month.
The five — Lawrence Masibera, Takunda Jeffrey, Tawanda Nyamandwe, Talent Chamboko and Lucky Vundhla — gave a good account of themselves during the 3-2 Manica Diamonds win over the provisional Warriors squad in a match played at Ellis Robin grounds in Harare on Sunday.
The CHAN tournament is a preserve for players plying their trade in local leagues across the continent.
Manica Diamonds might have not played even a single competitive encounter since the end of 2019, but their performance against the provisional Warriors’ squad was far from that of a rusty outfit.
The Gem Boys proved their lofty fifth position finish at the end of the 2019 season was no fluke.
That a highly rated 2019 championship chasing Ngezi Platinum team was thrashed 4-1 by the Warriors provisional squad and the same provisional squad went on to lose to Manica Diamonds on Sunday, places into context the ruthless form the Gem Boys are in.
No wonder coach, Zdravko Logaruric shortlisted five of Manica Diamonds players.
Even though he could hardly pronounce the name Manica Diamonds well in a post match interview on Sunday, he certainly pronounced their depth in talent very well saying: “I am in a situation where I have to deal with players who should have played 30 or 40 matches, but they have played only two or three matches.
“It is difficult to try to organise everything in such a short space of time. You cannot miss someone good. Just like today (Sunday), we saw good players who we will include in our final two weeks of training. They are good and we will include them, why not?
“The bio-bubble project did not happen. I have to organise my own bio-bubble. I have to play six or seven games against these teams and assess who is in form and fit.”
Manica Diamonds coach, Johanisi Nhumwa praised his boys for living up to the challenge even after months of inaction.
“It is good that we won this match. Since Covid-19 started we have not played a single game. This is our first competitive match. Therefore, I am impressed with how the boys applied themselves. I am happy the boys deserve to be shortlisted and I wish them well,” said Nhumwa.
Manica Diamonds chairman,Masimba Chihowa weighed in saying: “It is good to win such an important match. The reward of it all is instant as evidenced by the shortlisting of some of our players for the Warriors squad. It is an achievement that we must now build on going into the future.”