Ray Bande Senior Reporter
WARRIORS coach Joey Antipas and his technical team announced the list of players they provisionally need for the crucial World Cup preliminary round qualifier against lightweights Somalia and critics have expressed mixed feelings over the composition of the squad, let alone the exclusion of a good number of players who were part of that disgraceful Afcon squad in Egypt.
The Warriors’ squad is expected to troop into camp on Monday ahead of the first-leg set for Djibouti on Thursday, with the return leg three days later at Barbourfields Stadium.
That log leaders and reigning Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum have no single player on Antipas’ list has also divided opinion among fans and critics.
Mafero Mafero, as Antipas is fondly referred to by those who believe in his shrewd tactical prowess, dropped skipper Knowledge Musona, who has struggled for game time at his Belgian club Anderlecht, winger Talent Chawapiwa as well as goalkeepers George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda, who were in the disgraced Afcon squad.
France-based, Tino Kadewere, who has been scoring for fun for his Ligue 2 side Le Havre AC and leads the goal-scoring chart with eight goals in five games, is also part of the squad.
Baroka shot stopper, Elvis Chipezeze, who was slammed for his poor performance against DR Congo in the Afcon finals has been called up following his top form for his club in the opening three Absa Premiership matches this season.
Roving Highlanders’ right-back McClive Phiri gets his first cap in a backline that has Turkey-based centre-back, Teenage Hadebe, Alec Mudimu from Welsh side CEFN Druids, Bosso’s Peter Muduhwa as well as Devine Lunga of Golden Arrows.
Former Warriors player Lazarus Muhoni said: “Every coach, when appointed to be head coach for Zimbabwe Warriors, has certain players in his mind and that is the problem we have. This will go on and on. No merit is used on choosing these players. FC Platinum must be having at least one or two players in provisional squad that is my own point of view.”
Popular Mutare football benefactor James Lunga Meya, said: “We welcome the changes on the squad especially the local players that have been given a chance to prove themselves in the new set up. We need to give the new coach and the technical team the benefit of doubt and support him fully as he is yet to prove himself and the selection he has made.”
Meya also opined that Karuru and Mtizwa needed to be given another chance in the national team.
“However in my personal opinion, I feel there some players that I would have wanted to be part of the team such as Ovidy Karuru and Knox Mtizwa which I believe they still got the experience and the balance that we might need upfront,” wrote the South Africa based player intermediary and manager who has helped a number of players from Mutare to realise their dream of playing for better clubs not only in Zimbabwe but south of the Limpopo.
Chapungu gaffer Rodwell Dhlakama said: “Very balanced team by any measure. I am not sure of (Elvis) Chipezeze’s level of confidence after the horrible outing but generally that is what the doctor ordered.
“The squad is good we have a lot of players to select from and those who are in the top leagues and are doing extremely well must be accorded the same opportunity to show case their talent.”
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka) Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor) Macclive Phiri (Highlanders) Peter Muduwa (Highlanders) Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC) Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims) Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United) Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United) Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn) Phenias Bamusi (Caps United) Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre AC) Clive Augusto (Maritzburg United) Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits) Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City) Evans Rusike (Supersport United)