By Mukudzei Chingwere
A day after his official appointment as Warriors caretaker head coach, Joey Antipas has requested for a quick processing of England-based striker Macauley Bonne’s papers.
He wants him in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Somalia.
Following the retirement of Nyasha Mushekwi, the Warriors are in dire need of a target man up front.
With 45 goals in 90 appearances for his previous club Leyton Orient, Bonne, who now plays for England’s Championship outfit Charlton Athletic, seems to be the right man needed for that job.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Herald yesterday, Antipas talked about his appointment and number of issues relating to the Warriors’ job.
“First and foremost, I am honored to be appointed coach of my country, it does not matter it is on a caretaker basis,’’ he said.
‘‘Being appointed Zimbabwe coach is something I greatly appreciate and I want to do my very best in this new role.
“We have very good players available for selection and my wish is for the authorities to sort out the papers of Macauley Bonne so that we can include him in our next squad.
“I have been following his progress and I can tell you that he is a very good player whom I think can add value to the team.
“If his papers are regularised, we will definitely have him in the team, we want to make competition for places very tight.’’
The two-time championship-winning coach is under no allusions as to the size of the task that awaits him from an expectant nation ahead of the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
“Most importantly, we have to bring results, the country is craving for success and we have to do wonders to quickly bring that success.
“Zimbabwe has talent and anything is possible, we just need to work very hard and talking about the World Cup qualification, we have a chance but at times in football you need luck,’’ he said.
The Warriors will play Somalia in the preliminary round in October but it appears Antipas is already looking for the group stages of the qualifiers.
The coach will also preside over the opening matches of the 2021 AFCON finals this year.
His short-term contract with ZIFA is until the end of the year and the association expect their finances would have improved, by then, to enable them to engage the substantive coach they want.
However, it’s also very likely Antipas could be asked to continue in that role should the results be positive.
Zimbabwe now has a number of players plying their trade in competitive leagues overseas, with Marvellous Nakamba having signed for Aston Villa in the English Premier League.
Other Europe- based players are Tendai Darikwa, who will miss the rest of the year through injury, Alec Mudimu, Admiral Muskwe, Marshall Munetsi, Teenage Hadebe, Tino Kadewere, Martin Mapisa, Martin Zulu, Leroy Munyorovi and Abubakar Moffat.
There are also a number of UK-based players who have shown interest in playing for the Warriors.
Antipas concurred the arsenal at his disposal has the potential to make a good team, but said he needs time to run the ruler on some of the players he has never seen in action.
“We have a very good catchment of players, and if we make the right calls, I am sure we can make the country a powerhouse again.
“There are players who have played for the national team before who are doing very well, and some who are yet to play for the team whom I feel needs to be given a chance.
“I have read about some of the names in the press, of players who are playing abroad and I would like to assess some of them because, frankly speaking, I have not yet seen some of them in action. Our selection will be on merit and I believe the best players, and those doing very well, will get a chance to play for their country,” said Antipas.
The Chicken Inn trainer will start his World Cup qualification campaign with a two-legged preliminary round tie against Somalia next month. He will also take care of CHAN qualifiers which will give the local ensemble a chance to prove themselves. The Herald