By Augustine Hwata
WARRIORS team manager Sharif Mussa was yesterday confident that all the players called up for camp would turn up for national duty with a clean bill of health before they leave for Zambia tomorrow.
Zimbabwe and Zambia will square off in an international friendly in Lusaka on Sunday and as the players began trooping in last night, Mussa was hopeful they would not be forced in make last-minute changes owing to different problems.
Sunday’s match between the two Southern African giants will be part of commemorations to mark the 20th anniversary of the disaster that occurred on April 27, 1993, when a Zambian military plane crashed off the coast of Gabon and killed the entire Chipolopolo team, officials and journalists who were heading to a 1994 World Cup qualifier in Senegal.
On Monday, Warriors coach Klaus Dieter Pagels named an 18-member squad of locally-based players for the latest edition of the Battle for Zambezi.
The game in Lusaka will also give Pagels his first hint of the kind of conditions he will face when he takes the Warriors to Zambia again for the Cosafa Castle Cup tournament in July.
In selecting his squad, Pagels had been made to understand that there would be some mid-week matches yesterday and had directed that the players join camp immediately after those games.
But it turned out that the Castle Lager Premiership programme did not have any matches yesterday and now Mussa is upbeat on getting all the players without hassles.
“The boys are starting to arrive this (last) evening and I hope all will be available. So far I have not received any excuses and I hope they will all turn up,” said Mussa.
Mussa said the locally-assembled squad will have a workout at Rufaro today before they embark on the road trip tomorrow.
“We are planning on having a training session in the morning at Rufaro and then another one at the same venue in afternoon. The coach has selected 18 players drawn from the local league,” said Mussa.
The match in Lusaka will be Pagels’ third in-charge after he presided over an international friendly against Botswana at Rufaro before having his first competitive test in the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria .
Pagels who this time has been restricted into picking a maximum of two players from each club is also looking at putting together a Warrirors side for the African Nations Championships qualifiers which will start later in the year.
The CHAN tournament is a competition reserved only for players who are playing in their domestic national league and Zimbabwe has been to the previous two editions in Ivory Coast and Sudan.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Zambia president Kalusha Bwayla said there is need for his country to have a new generation of players that will take Zambia to greater heights.
The legendary Bwalya, who missed the doomed flight that wiped out his teammates in the Chipolopolo side made the remarks after following events at Barclays Sports Complex in Lusaka where 162 players turned up for national team trials.
The 1988 African Footballer of the year said such trials were important as they provided the association with a good platform from which future players can be identified and expressed happiness with the players’ enthusiasm during the exercise.
Bwalya praised players who were invited and turned up for national assessment trials, adding that holding national trials was the best way to select the best players for the developmental team, the CHAN and Cosafa teams as well as for the Chipolopolo.
“As you can see, we have a team which consists of players that have been together for the past eight or nine years. It’s a process that we need to continue encouraging. It is encouraging to see so much enthusiasm and will to succeed from all the players.
“This is a very good programme which will help us as FAZ, the coaching bench identified talent that will take us forward. We want to pick the best of the best, players that can take us forward and win us medals. We are also looking at tapping talent at the grassroots,” Kalusha told the Zambia’s Daily Mail.
The trials started on Monday and will end today.
Goalkeepers: Maxwell Nyamunpangedengu (Harare City) Liberty Chirava (Chicken Inn)
Defenders: Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United) Augustine Mbara (Dynamos), Felix Chindungwe (Chicken Inn), Eric Chipeta (Hwange); Godfrey Moyo (Motor Action), Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum)
Midfielders: Nicholas Guyo (Monomotapa), Silas Songani (Harare City), Ronald Chitiyo (Monomotapa), Masimba Mambare (Highlanders) Devon Chafa (Dynamos) Nicholas Alifandika (Black Mambas)
Strikers: Nelson Maziwisa(FC Platinum), Tawanda Nyamandwe (CAPS United), Prosper Matizanadzo (Buffaloes) Last Chibwiro Black Mambas).