By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
The Warriors were on Wednesday taken through an intensive and gruelling Covid-19 test soon after arrival in Yaounde, Cameroon, for the sixth edition of the African Nations Championship that roars into life this evening.
The delegation underwent two tests in a matter of hours, largely due to their change of itinerary since they were initially meant to have flown into the West African country on January 11, but things took a turn for the worse after nine players and five members of the technical team tested positive for Covid-19 following tests done on the squad’s return from the Christmas holidays.
The development forced an immediate cancellation of the training sessions while awaiting the nod to resume training from the Government through the Sports and Recreation Commission.
Upon arrival at the airport on Wednesday, the Warriors were immediately taken for PCR tests at the airport in line with the Cameroonian government policy.
Later in the day, as part of Caf’s Covid-19 health protocols, they were tested again, this time in preparation for the match this evening.
Caf states that tests must be done at least 48 hours before the match.
This double test within a day would have been avoided had the team arrived in time for the competition.
“We got delayed at the airport upon arrival because we were taken for PCR tests, which are mandatory in terms of government laws here. Upon arrival at the hotel we underwent the same process again, this time as part of Caf requirements before a game.
The second one was tough because they were doing in both nostrils. It wasn’t a nice experience,” said Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare.
The Warriors, who are reported to be in high spirits, held a training session at 6pm on Wednesday before retiring.
Yesterday, they had a walkaround at the match venue, which is part of the competition rules.
Coach Zdravko Logarusic’s charges get the competition underway this evening with a duel against hosts Cameroon at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
The match kicks off at 7 pm Zimbabwean time.
“They know what it means playing in this tournament. It means a lot to them. They want the game and they are not under pressure, you should see the mentality of the youngest player in the team, Kabila, (Andrew Mbeba), the way he is pushing everyone, it’s amazing,” said Mpandare.
Twenty-five percent of the stadium’s seats have been reserved for the fans.
After this evening’s opener, the Ian Nekati-captained squad will face Burkina Faso on January 21 before rounding off their group matches against Mali three days later.
Warriors’ Chan squad
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Simba Chinani (Dynamos), Nelson Chadya (Ngezi)
Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Jaravani (CAPS Utd), Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi), Carlos Mavhurume (CAPS Utd), Pawell Govere (Golden Eagles), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Talent Chamboko (Manica Diamonds)
Ronald Chitiyo (CAPS Utd), Shadreck Nyahwa (Byo (Chiefs), Wellington Taderera (Ngezi), Leeroy Mavunga (CAPS Utd), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Denver Mukamba (Ngezi).
Strikers: Obriel Chirinda (Chicken inn), Tawanda Nyamandwe (Manica Diamonds), Farawo Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs). The Chronicle