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Loga to announce Afcon squad

by Staff reporter
22 Feb 2021 at 05:50hrs | Views
WARRIORS coach, Zdravko Logarusic, is tomorrow expected to name an enlarged squad for the decisive final two 2021 Afcon qualifiers next month. Zimbabwe take on Botswana in Gaborone, on March 25, in the penultimate round of the qualifiers.

The Warriors then host Zambia, at the National Sports Stadium, four days later.

The Cosafa trio are fighting for the remaining sole ticket, from the group, as champions, Algeria, have already qualified for the finals in Cameroon next year.

With Botswana having already named their squad, dominated by home-based players, Loga was forced to delay announcing his men for the crunch battles.

The Croatian gaffer, who remains winless in charge of the Warriors, was scheduled to name the provisional team last week. But, he delayed his move, waiting for Zifa to get feedback from English clubs, on the availability of some of the players.

Some key players, like Tendayi Darikwa, Marvelous Nakamba, Jordan Zemura and Adam Chicksen, who are based in England, could be affected by regulations related to preventing the spread of Covid-19. The complications are not set to affect the Warriors alone.

The Desert Foxes talisman, Riyad Mahrez, is also based in England, where he plays for Manchester City. If the Citizens bar Mahrez, from coming for the next Afcon qualifiers, it means the Desert Foxes will not have one of their best weapons. That could work in favour of both Zambia and Botswana, who have outstanding matches, against the African champions.

National teams general manager, Wellington Mpandare, confirmed Logarusic will announce the squad tomorrow.

"The squad will be announced on Tuesday (tomorrow)," Mpandare said. "The announcement was supposed to be done last week but we delayed hoping to get feedback from English clubs about the availability of some of the players we are hoping to get.

"There is hope that we will get the feedback this week but we have resolved to name an enlarged squad of over 30 players in the provisional squad.

"If we can't get the players from England then their places will be filled by those we would have named in the provisional team on Tuesday (tomorrow)."

Loga is also facing another dilemma, with no guarantees players based in the United States, will also make it.

Last time, when Zimbabwe were preparing for the back-to-back fixtures against Algeria, Loga named two United States-based players, Tendai Jirira and goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva. However, due to Covid-19-related logistical complications, the pair failed to travel for the assignments.

"Obviously, that is also another source of concern. We are not sure whether those in the United States will be able to travel since they failed the last time out," said Mpandare.

"But, things have improved and we hope to be beneficiaries of the improvement as well.

"Those based in the United States, if they are in the squad, will be named in the provisional team and we hope they will make it.

"The last time we called them, there were complications and they couldn't travel. We hope this time around they will come and play in these key fixtures, if they are part of the team."

Mpandare said the team will start to trickle into camp on March 22, starting with the local-based players, who Loga has already indicated will be part of the squad. The coach was impressed by a few players, at the Chan tournament in Cameroon, between January 16 and February 7.

The Warriors lost all their three Group A matches to hosts Cameroon (0-1), Burkina Faso (1-3) and Mali (0-1). This was first group, of the senior national team players, to exit a Caf tournament, without collecting, at least, a point. But, there were positives, which Loga picked from that failed Chan mission, and he has since revealed he will include some of the players, who performed well in Cameroon.

The best performer from that squad, Carlos Mavhurume, as well as youthful midfielder Shadreck Nyahwa, Farawo Matare and Richard Hachiro are some of the players who might be included in the squad.

Zimbabwe are second in the Afcon qualifying race, on five points, five behind Algeria. Botswana are in third place, with four points, with group anchors Zambia on three points.

The Warriors can qualify if they beat Botswana away and Zambia lose at home to Algeria, in the next round of fixtures, which will render the last group matches mere dead-rubbers.

Source - chronicle