By Petros Kausiyo
HARARE – There were no major surprises as Warriors coach Ian Gorowa gave the biggest hint of his 2014 African Nations Championships side by naming an enlarged 29-man provisional squad yesterday.
The Warriors will be making their third appearance at the CHAN tournament when the competition that is reserved only for those players playing in their national leagues bursts into life in Cape Town on January 11.
Zimbabwe are the Group B seeds in a pool that also includes Morocco, Burkina Faso and Uganda, with Gorowa’s men scheduled to get their campaign underway with a cagey fixture against the Atlas Lions at Athlone Stadium on January 12.
Gorowa has been assessing the local players during the just ended Premiership season as well as during the few international friendlies which his Warriors have played.
Yesterday, the former Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns coach, named a 29-man side which will go into camp tonight and will begin their intensive training programme in the capital tomorrow.
There were no major shocks however, the squad that was announced by Warriors team manager Shariff Mussa with Gorowa sticking to the bulk of the players that have been a regular feature of his sides ever since he replaced German Klaus Dieter Pagels as national coach.
Mussa said the Warriors would now hold their training camp in the country after a bid to take the senior team to South Africa fell through because of lack of funding.
The affable Warriors manager said he, however, remained confident that the senior team would still have adequate preparations from home with Mussa indicating that the coach had initially selected a 30-man squad but Highlanders’ Bruce Kangwa had asked to be excused in order to concentrate on his impending wedding.
There was no place too for roving Dynamos left back Ocean Mushure, who is reportedly grappling with some personal and social problems that are understood to be distracting him from his career.
Mushure’s absence has opened the door for a return to the Warriors squad for his Dynamos teammate Augustine Mbara.
Dynamos newboy Ronald Chitiyo, who was playing for relegated Monomotapa was also a notable absentee with the diminutive forward having seen very little of national duty in the Gorowa era.
But there were no such problems for skipper Masimba Mambare, big goalkeeper George Chigova, newly crowned Soccer Star of the year Tawanda Muparati, enterprising Chicken Inn midfielder Danny Phiri and FC Platinum forward Charles Sibanda.
Sibanda was also a key member of Madinda Ndlovu’s squad at the 2011 CHAN tournament in Sudan.
Mussa also said the Warriors were still targeting to complete their preparations by playing Gabon in an international friendly on January 7, after which they would proceed to Cape Town in readiness for the competition’s January 11 opening ceremony.
“We have asked the players to report at Zifa House by 5pm on Monday after which they will be taken to their camp and training will start on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning. We are still finalising on the other logistics of the camp but training will start on Tuesday and we are looking at an uninterrupted camp although there might be a break of a day or two for Christmas or New Year’s festivities.
“Tentatively the idea was to leave Harare on January 6, play Gabon in Johannesburg on January 7 and leave for Cape Town the following day.
“Since it is a long training camp we are also looking at various options like field programmes and workouts in the gym. In fact, a lot of things are going to be done in accordance with the CHAN tournament requirements and the players will undergo strict medical tests as soon as they start trooping in,’’ Mussa said.
The Warriors manager said the coach would have until January 1 to submit to Caf his final 22-man side for the tournament.
But just like Gorowa before him, Mussa was also hopeful that player movements in and out of the country in search of new clubs would not disrupt their preparations.
Mussa said they were expecting to discuss the matter with Zifa officials once camp has started.
“Of course players cannot be leaving camp arbitrarily and we will bring this to the attention of Zifa when the coach has laid out his ground rules because we really need to know who is going to be available and who is not.
“At the moment the only player that I understand is out of the country but should be back in time for camp is Peter Moyo of Highlanders. The others seem to have gone for trials and came back,’’ Mussa said.
Former Moroka Swallows defender Oscar Machapa, who played for Dynamos this year, DeMbare striker Simba Sithole who had a barren spell at SuperSport United, Harare City talisman Silas Songani and Hwange defensive rock Eric Chipeta were also named in the squad as did the Chicken Inn pair of centre back Felix Chindungwe and winger Kuda Mahachi.
Gorowa also cast his net wider by including players like Shabanie Mine’s Frankson Bushire, the Triangle pair of Pascal Manhanga and Misheck Mburayi and Black Rhinos’ Wonder Kapinda while Harare City goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu returns to the fold.
Warriors provisional CHAN squad:
Goalkeepers: George Chigova, Maxwell Nyamupangedengu, Tafadzwa Dube, Munyaradzi Diya
Defenders: Oscar Machapa, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Augustine Mbara, Themba Ndlovu, Partson Jaure, Eric Chipeta, Felix Chindungwe
Midfielders: Danny Phiri, Pascal Manhanga, Frankson Bushire, Wonder Kapinda, Charles Sibanda, Tawanda Muparati, Silas Songani, Masimba Mambare, Kuda Mahachi, Ali Sadiki, Peter Moyo
Strikers: Simba Sithole (Dynamos), Simba Sithole (How Mine), Lot Chiwunga, Misheck Mburayi.