By Mehluli Sibanda
Midfielder Ovidy Karuru will lead the Warriors at this year’s Cosafa Cup which starts in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) South Africa on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old is the most experienced player in the Warriors squad for the regional competition having made his debut in national colours as far back as 2007. Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare said since Karuru is the vice-captain for the Warriors, it made sense for him to lead the team at the Cosafa tournament.
Karuru was the leading goal scorer at the 2017 Cosafa tournament held in South Africa’s North-West Province when Zimbabwe won their fifth title.
Goalkeeper Washington Arubi of South Africa’s Marumo Gallants (formerly Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila) and the clubless Evans Rusike are the other experienced players in the Warriors final squad. Striker Knox Mutizwa of Lamontville Golden Arrows who asked to be excused, Zambia based Kevin Moyo (muscle injury), MacClive Phiri, Ben Musaka and Jonah Fabisch are the players that have dropped out of the Warriors squad.
Fabisch, who plays for Germany’s Hamburger SV reserve team was expected to link up with the Warriors in South Africa. However, with Mzansi on Germany’s red listed countries in terms of Covid-19, it meant the son of late Warriors coach Reinhard Fabisch had to go into 14 days quarantine when he returns to the European country.
“Jonah Fabisch is committed to playing for Zimbabwe but South Africa is on Germany’s red list, it meant he had to go into a 14-day quarantine when he goes back to Germany which we felt is too much so he was left out,’’ said Mpandare.
With Mutizwa, the 2017 Cosafa Cup Player of the Tournament unavailable, Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic will look to Karuru, Rusike and Farau Matare to bang in the goals.
One of the exciting prospects in Zimbabwe’s final squad is United States of America based midfielder Nyasha Dube, the 23-year-old son of Hwange Football Club legend, Nation Dube. Dube, a versatile player plays for Little Rock Rangers, a team that plays in the USL Two. The Warriors will hold their final training session in Harare this morning before they head off to South Africa tomorrow.
Zimbabwe, the most successful team in the Cosafa having won the regional competition six times since it started in 1997 go up against the Mambas of Mozambique in their opening match on Thursday at the Wolfson Stadium. The Warriors face Namibia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 11 July before they clash with West African guest nation Senegal three days later.
The winner of Group A, which includes, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Eswatini, will take on the best runner-up in the semis, with the victors in Groups B (Zambia, Malawi, Comoros, Madagascar) up against the winners of Group C (Senegal, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique).
Losing semifinalists will be involved in the bronze-medal match on July 18, with the final to be staged later in the day. Both matches are at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, a 2010 Fifa World Cup venue.
Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi (Marumo Gallants), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF)
Defenders: Carlos Mavhurume (Caps United), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Lennox Muchero (Yadah), Godknows Murwira (Dynamos), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Malvin Mkolo (Bulawayo Chiefs), Jimmy Dzingai (Nkana)
Midfielders: Blessing Sarupinda (Caps United), Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), Shadreck Nyahwa (Dynamos), Brian Banda (FC Platinum), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Nyasha Dube (Little Rock Rangers), Ovidy Karuru (Black Leopards), Richard Hachiro (Caps United)
Strikers: Farau Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs), Evans Rusike. The Sunday News