By Mukudzei Chingwere
Warriors coach Joey Antipas has pleaded for the availability of British-based trio — Macauley Bonne, Jordan Zemura and Adam Chicksen — ahead of this month’s 2021 African Cup of Nations football qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia.
Antipas has hinted that he wants Bonne, the Charlton Athletic forward, to lead the line in the national team’s set-up, with several players tried in that position failing to do justice.
Now without the injured Tendayi Darikwa, the availability of Bournemouth’s Zemura and Bolton Wanderers’ Chicksen, who both play at wing-back, has become a key priority to add competition in the team.
News yesterday filtered that the Zimbabwean birth certificates of Bonne and Chicksen are out, paving the way for passport application next week.
And ZIFA yesterday said the Registrar-General, Clemence Masango, has promised that the players who applied for the passports will get them before the Warriors tackle Botswana and Zambia in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
“Players who applied for passports will get their passports in time for them to be eligible to represent the nation in matches against Botswana on 15 November (home) and Zambia (away) on 19 November,” ZIFA quoted Masango as saying on their Facebook wall yesterday.
The players are Bonne, Chicksen, Zemura, Cliff Moyo and Tivonge Rushesha, who are all based in the United Kingdom.
The five are in the 32-man provisional squad selected by coach Antipas for the upcoming AFCON qualifiers,” ZIFA said.
And Antipas quickly implored the authorities to finish the process as soon as possible.
He said coming from several years of not having players playing in high-profile leagues, the country could not afford to lose a golden opportunity to recruit these stars.
“We want to play at the World Cup and we need to have all our players available for selection to have a strong chance,” Antipas stated.
“I have been following most of these players with Zimbabwean origins, and I feel players like Bonne, Zemura and Chicksen deserve a chance with the team.
“But it is not only those three, but all the players included in the squad, that is why we extended the invite to them.
“My appeal to authorities is the quick processing of the players’ passports so that we have them for the Botswana and Zambia games.
“Qualifying for major tournaments is not easy, you can see most of the teams on the continent have players playing in top leagues, and for us, we cannot afford not to having ours being part of the team.
“It is a chance for us and we need to utilise it, so our appeal as the technical team is to have the players available.”
Antipas was given the reins to lead the senior national team until December on a caretaker basis, but he is now favourite to get the job on a full-time contract after achieving his initial target.
The Chicken Inn head coach has managed to take the team to the CHAN finals and also remained in the reckoning for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and he believes a World Cup dream is still a possibility.
“The qualifiers are starting now, but to be fair, any talk about qualifying or not is still premature at this stage.
“For now, we need to qualify to the next round of the qualifying phases, and after that we can start realistically talking of making it.
“But generally, if we have all our players both locally and those yet to secure Zimbabwean passports available for selection I think we (will) have a strong chance,” Antipas said. The Herald