The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
PLAYERS who do not usually get opportunities for the Zimbabwe senior national men’s football team are with a chance when the Warriors take part in this year’s Cosafa Cup in South Africa next month.
While Zimbabwe are expected to use the Cosafa Cup to fine tune for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers that start in September, the Warriors are unlikely to field their star players in the Cosafa Cup. Zimbabwe have been drawn to play against West African guest nation Senegal, Mozambique and 2015 Cosafa Cup winners Namibia in Group C of the regional tournament that is set for 7-18 July in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Many were expecting the Warriors to include the likes of Knowledge Musona, Marshal Munetsi, Tinotenda Kadewere, Teenage Hadebe and Marvelous Nakamba seeing that most of these players are on their off-season break.
Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, however, said calling up the stars means they have to play and the fringe players will fail to get an opportunity.
“It does not help to have Knowledge, Tino, Munetsi and Teenage when we want to try other players in their positions, if those players are called up it means they have to play and besides Cosafa is not on Fifa window,’’ Mpandare said.
This means coach Zdravko Logarusic’s squad, that is meant to get into camp in a week’s time will not have the many big stars, with fringe players to be called up. Mpandare indicated that the Warriors will head into camp on 27 June once the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) gives the green light.
Football is one of the sports that are not allowed to take place, which means the Zimbabwe Football Association has to seek clearance from the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, through the SRC for the Warriors to start training.
The squad for the Cosafa Cup will be announced this week as soon as Zifa get the communication from the SRC.
Zimbabwe are the most successful teams in the Cosafa Cup with six wins since the tournament started in 1997. They are followed by Zambia (five), South Africa (four), Angola (three) and Namibia (one).
The Warriors last won the Cosafa Cup in 2018 when they defeated Zambia 4-2 after extra time in the final played at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa. In 2019, the Warriors finished third with a 5-4 on penalties triumph over Lesotho in the tournament that was held in Durban, South Africa. — @Mdawini_29.