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Warriors begin life after Mhofu

by Staff reporter
28 Jul 2019 at 09:09hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S Warriors begin life without Sunday "Mhofu'' Chidzambwa when they face Mauritius at the George V Stadium in Curepipe today with the bunch of home-grown talent seeking to get their African Nations Championships qualifying campaign off to a flyer.

Kick-off time is 12.30pm Zimbabwean time.

There is no escaping the fact that Chidzambwa's shadow will be looming large in the Warriors dressing room as they plunge into battle against a side they have often dominated in previous meetings.

Chidzambwa quit in a huff just days before the team's departure, leaving Zifa with no choice but to appoint his assistant Rahman Gumbo as the interim coach for this assignment.

Gumbo will also be in charge during the return leg at Barbourfields next Sunday.

However, a number of names are being thrown around as possible replacements for Chidzambwa.

Debate over who could be the next Warriors coach has virtually overshadowed today's encounter, which is supposed to showcase the best talent in the domestic premiership.

Prior to his abrupt resignation, Chidzambwa had expressed his desire to guide the Warriors in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, whose draw will be conducted tomorrow at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

Various names, including that of FC Platinum's Norman Mapeza, Lloyd Chitembwe of CAPS United, Chicken Inn's Joey Antipas and the United States based Charles Mhlauri, have been bandied around as Chidzambwa's possible successors.

The legendary Chidzambwa, who became the first coach to take Zimbabwe to their first ever African Cup of Nations finals in 2004, stepped down from his post last Wednesday amid a furore ignited by his decision to exclude CAPS United star midfielder Joel Ngodzo in the CHAN squad.

The veteran coach acceded to public pressure on Tuesday night and called Ngodzo into camp.

However, the star midfielder turned up without a valid passport on Wednesday morning.

A few hours later, Chidzambwa tendered his resignation, amid claims that he had gathered information that he was going to be fired after the Mauritius assignment.

Without Ngodzo, Gumbo is likely to look up to Highlanders' Nqobizitha Masuku to control the Warriors' midfield.

An appetising partnership of the local Premiership's top scorer Clive Augusto and Dynamos' new signing Evans Katema could lead the Warriors attack, with the pair of the speedy Phineas Bhamusi and Leeroy Mavhunga providing the width.

Skipper Partson Jaure, back for CHAN duties with Zimbabwe, will marshal a defence that should have the likes of Peter Muduhwa, Ian Nekati of ZPC Kariba and Xolani Ndlovu of Chicken Inn.

The 2020 CHAN finals will be the sixth edition of the biennial tournament that is reserved for locally based players.

They will be held in Cameroon between January and February after Ethiopia, who were supposed to host, admitted they were running behind schedule to stage the competition.

Zimbabwe, who were 2014 semi-finalists in Cape Town, South Africa, had previously been to every edition since 2011 before missing out on the 2018 tournament in Morocco.

Hopefully history will repeat itself today for Gumbo's men.

The Warriors have only lost once in nine meetings against Mauritius and that defeat came via a 2-0 loss during the Indian Ocean Games on August 29, 1982.

Since then, Zimbabwe has prevailed over their opponents on seven occasions, with the only draw being a 1-1 deadlock against Ian Gorowa's men at Rufaro on August 4, 2013.

Zimbabwe had won the first leg with a 2-0 victory a week earlier in Curepipe.

After being assured by Zifa that he will be around for the second leg, Gumbo hopes that his charges will put behind the drama that followed Chidzambwa's departure and put one foot into the next CHAN qualifying round.

 Warriors squad:

Goalkeepers: Talbert Shumba (Chapungu), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders)

Defenders: Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), Xolani Ndlovu (Chicken Inn), Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars), Brian Chikwenya (Triangle)

Midfielders: Phineas Bhamusi (CAPS United), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Ralph Kawondera (Triangle), Never Tigere (FC Platinum), Malvin Gaki (Chicken Inn), Leeroy Mavhunga (Yadah Stars),

Strikers: Clive Augusto (Chicken Inn), Evans Katema (Dynamos), Prince Dube (Highlanders)

Source - sundaymail