By Grace Chingoma and Mukudzei Chingwere
As we exclusively revealed last week, Khama Billiat and Tino Kadewere are out of the Warriors’ opening 2022 World Cup qualifier against Somalia in Djibouti on Thursday.
Billiat, who was set to be the team’s talisman in the absence of regular skipper Knowledge Musona, has pulled out of the game because he has a medical appointment.
Kadewere, who has scored nine goals in six league matches for French Ligue 2 side Le Havre, was not released by his team because ZIFA sent in a request for his services late.
Requests for international players have to be sent in, at least, two weeks before the assignment.
The duo was replaced Sipho Ndlovu of Chicken Inn and Knox Mutizwa of Golden Arrows.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare said Billiat requested to be excused so that he gets time to attend to some medicals.
He added French club Le Havre wrote to ZIFA indicating that the association’s call-up was not done two weeks before the fixture.
ZIFA only named their provisional squad late last week after appointing the Chicken Inn gaffer as their interim coach until end of the year.
Mpandare, however, said they were expecting Billiat to be back in action in the return leg at Barbourfields on Sunday.
Caretaker coach Joey Antipas said there were some players he wanted for this assignment but could not get them for national duty.
“There are a number of players, especially those who are playing abroad, which we wanted to be part of the team but could not be here for different reasons,’’ said Antipas.
‘’We have injuries, some are yet to regularise their papers and we allowed some to have time to settle at their clubs.
‘’We have a wide catchment area of players and I think those available have what it takes to do the business for the team and get a good result away from home.
“I want to give a number of players a chance and when others are not available it is a chance for others to prove they can do well for the national team.
“As a coach I would obviously have wanted a situation where all the players are available for selection but those who are there I think they are good enough.
“I cannot say much of the team most of them will get a chance so let us talk much about them after our first game, to the people of Zimbabwe I appeal for their support to help this team achieve great results.’’
ZIFA are also struggling to bankroll the trip to Djibouti and last Friday they were knocking on the doors of potential sponsors to help them meet the costs, including paying for the airfares of the players.
‘’The ZIFA officials sent a begging bowl last week, including as late as Friday, for sponsors to come in and help them pay for the airfares of the players,’’ sources said.
‘’However, the response they got was that their request had come late and it would have been better if they had come just after the draw was made.
‘’Even today (yesterday) the ZIFA officials were trying to ensure that things are sorted out but it’s difficult especially when you consider the Young Warriors also have an international assignment in South Africa this week.’’
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Macclive Phiri (Highlanders), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids AFC), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Tichaona Chipunza (Chicken Inn), Phenias Bamusi (CAPS United), Sipho Ndlovu (Chicken Inn)
Strikers: Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Clive Augusto (Maritzburg United), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City), Evans Rusike (Supersport United)
Warriors caretaker coach Joey Antipas has drafted in Knox Mutizwa and Sipho Ndlovu into the national team which is scheduled to leave today for the 2022 World Cup, preliminary round, first leg qualifier against Somalia on Thursday in Djibouti.
The two players come in as replacements to the Warriors duo of Khama Billiat and Tino Kadewere, who has since been ruled out of the tie.
Zimbabwe national team squad has been rocked by the absence of some key players for this crucial play- off.
Already, skipper Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru, Danny Phiri, Talent Chawapihwa, Ronald Pfumbidzai, goalkeepers George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda have not been considered for this tie while Marvelous Nakamba has been overlooked so that he fully settles at his new club. Yesterday, the association was running around trying to secure airfares for the team.
The association has been incapacitated after one of their former employees obtained a court order to freeze their bank account. This leaves the national team in precarious position ahead of the Thursday’s fixture.
According to their itinerary, six local based players and the technical team are expected to fly outn this afternoon via Addis Ababa. They will link up with the 12 foreign-based players who are expected to connect directly from their bases to Djibouti.
The team will return on Friday.
But by yesterday afternoon, ZIFA was yet to secure tickets for both batches of players.
The Young Warriors also reported for camp yesterday. The Under-23 team will travel to Johannesburg to face South Africa on Friday in the first leg of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Young Warriors will play the reverse fixture at Barbourfields on September 10, two days after the Warriors host Somalia at the same venue. The Chronicle