The national Under-20 side has been hit by age-cheating allegations ahead of the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Championships which begins on Sunday in Kitwe, Zambia.
Coach Bekithemba Ndlovu yesterday named the final 20 players to do duty for the country in the 12-day long event.
But a red flag has been raised over the selection of some players who are thought to be over-age ahead of the young deserving athletes.
There are fears that the country will miss a big opportunity to expose players of the right age in developmental tournaments such as this where the whole thrust is about polishing rough diamonds, not necessarily bringing results.
The quintet of Tatenda Muringami who plays for Dynamos, Shabanie’s Panashe Siziba, Delic Murimba of Triangle, Yadah Stars’ Tinotenda Issah Ali as well as Harare City’s Tatenda Tumba and made the final squad, but a cloud of suspicion hung around their ages, especially in a set up where there is no MRI scans to determine if their documents have indeed been doctored.
But, Ndlovu who seems under pressure to do better than last year’s dismal showing with the same team, defended his charges.
The Bulawayo City coach said he chose the players based on the documents they have, which show they qualify to be in the Under-20 squad.
“I don’t know about that one . . .us as technical team we took that list from PSL. They play for PSL teams and there is a list, each club in the Premier League has got five Under-20 players. So we took those from that list of PSL,” said Ndlovu.
“And if it is said they are old, why then are they registered in the PSL as Under-20s if these people know that they are old. So who is wrong there, is it the coaches, is it the people, is it the boys? Because they are registered in our league as Under-20s.
“All those who are here . . . someone will come and say this one is old and for me I don’t have something to prove (that) but him, the player has got something to prove because he is registered as an Under-20 and he has got a passport and he has got everything that says he is (19)99.
“So how do I prove as a coach? How do I drop him? How do I tell him that you are old? It’s difficult for me if he is already registered with the league as an Under-20 player.”
Zimbabwe were once a dominant force in the tournament, having won it for six times, but they have found the going tough in recent editions of the regional youth tourney.
But in the last two years, the Young Warriors exited the competition in the group stages.
For this year’s tournament, Zimbabwe are in Group C together with together with Angola, Lesotho and Botswana.
They open their campaign against Botswana on Monday before facing Lesotho two days later with a date against Angola on December 9, concluding their group stage business.
The top teams from the groups and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semi-finals.
Tinotenda Issah Ali (Yadah Stars)
Frank Kuchineyi (Herentals)
Andrew Kabila Mbeba (Highlanders)
Munashe Peter Garananga (Ubuntu FC)
Emmanuel Jalayi (Aces Academy)
Brandon Mpofu (Ndlovu Inyathela)
Shadreck Panashe Nyahwa (Bulawayo Chiefs)
Devine Philmon Mhindiriri (Bulawayo City)
Takunda Macdonald Mukunga (Harare City)
Tatenda Tumba (Harare City)
Kelvin Ndebele (CAPS United)
Tinotenda Ashabel Chiunye (CAPS United)
Junior Blessing Nyamuzihwa (ZPC Kariba)
Tatenda Muringani (Dynamos)
Leonard Jani (FC Platinum)
Marvin Sibanda (Taft’s Head Boys Varsity)
Delic Alfornce Murimba (Triangle)
Blessing Tinotenda Sarupinda (Black Rhinos)
Clive Junior Rupiya (Chapungu)
Thabo Lunga (Highlanders)