By Grace Chingoma
Zimbabwe Under-20 coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, believes his Young Warriors will compete at the COSAFA Championships at the Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa.
The regional tournament will run from December 3 to 13.
The tournament serves as the zonal qualifiers for next year’s Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations with two teams, who reach the final, earning places at the continental finals.
Zimbabwe are in Group A alongside hosts South Africa and meet Amajita in the opening match.
They will play Mozambique and Lesotho in other group matches.
“I understand that we are in a tough group, but we must also be tough,’’ Ndiraya said.
“I think the players we brought in should be able to give us the results that we want.
“Our target, obviously, is to reach the semi-finals.
“Ultimately, we want to win the top prize, hopefully, things will go in our favour, we will prepare well, and execute our plans very well.
“Naturally, if a team is prepared well, then nothing will stop it from getting good results.
“South Africa have always been a difficult side for us, over the years, in all age groups, even at senior level.
“But, we want to try our best this time around, it should be an exciting match, the opening match, we should give everyone some exciting moments’’
Following the Under-17 selection outcry, after players from the Southern Region were largely overlooked, the Under-20 technical team have been thorough in their selection.
“We are a little bit biased towards the Premier League teams, in terms of selection, we focussed mainly on those who were registered in the Under-20 category by their respective teams,’’ said Ndiraya.
“We have also looked at the academies.
“I do have two assistants in Mandla Mpofu and Nesbert Saruchera. So, Nesbert was in charge of the Northern Region, he got in touch with the coaches and academies of the Northern Region.
“Lulu was in charge of the Southern region. They liaised with the coaches, and the academies there, and that’s how we came up with the squad that we have.
“It’s not easy to try and create that balance, to try and get that talent from across the country.
“Above all, we also brought into camp some boys, we have Calum English-Brown, he is based in Germany, but because of the Covid-19, he came back, he is around.
“He was part of the Under-17 squad which went to COSAFA Mauritius (2017) with coach Moses Chunga and Tafadzwa Mashiri.’’
Ndiraya said the training camp attracted numerous players and they ended up having about 50 players.
Today, the technical team will trim the squad to 30 players before they come up with their final list of 22 players.
“It’s been difficult because you want to work on a lot of things, in a very short space of time,’’ Ndiraya said. “We initially had 10 days to prepare the team before the tournament.
“We are doing the best we can. Hopefully, by the time we leave, we will have our players, at least, ready for the tournament.’’
Goalkeepers: Tendai Chirara (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Tatenda Makoni (Dzivarasekwa Academy), Mattriples Nleya (Bulawayo Chiefs).
Defenders: Malvern Hativagone (Bulawayo Chiefs), Thomas Mudzengerere (Prince Edward Academy), Tinotenda Muringai (Dynamos), Kelvin Mangiza (FC Platinum), Munashe Chakuchichi (BN Academy), Munashe Garan’’anga (Ubuntu, South Africa), Munashe Katondo (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Bukhosi Maseko (Trukumb), Kundai Mhembere (Yadah Stars).
Midfielders: Donald Mukunga (Harare City), Kelvin Rateiwa (Dynamos), Sebastian Summerfield (Gateshead FC, England), Lexington Mujokoro (FMSA Umguza), Bernard Matsikidze (Highlands Park, South Africa), Kudakwashe Nyakudanga (Black Rhinos), Brendon Nyagurungo (Caya Foot Academy, Senegal), Oscar Magejo (Academy Twenty 63), Calum English-Brown (Eintracht Norderstedt 03, Germany), Bill Antonio (Prince Edward Academy), Panashe Mutimbanyoka (FC Platinum), Tendai Matindife (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Debbellar Mapuwa (Legends Academy).
Strikers: Munashe Pini (Chicken Inn), Tapiwa Mandinyenya (Aces Youth Academy), Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya (FC Platinum), Andrea Siziba (Bulawayo City), Tawanda Bhunu (Golden Eagles). The Herald