Foreign clubs delay Warriors squad announcement for World Cup qualifiers
By Mehluli Sibanda
The Zimbabwe senior national football team’s technical department headed by coach Zdravko Logarusic is expected to announce the squad for the two Fifa World Cup qualifier fixtures in the next few days.
Zimbabwe face South Africa at the National Sports Stadium on 3 September prior to colliding with Ethiopia on 7 September. Wellington Mpandare, the Warriors team manager said the squad should be announced tomorrow or Tuesday. According to the Warriors team manager, the delays have been caused by responses from foreign clubs on the release of players. Hugo Broos, the Bafana Bafana coach has already named his squad for the trip to Zimbabwe.
“The reason we have not announced is we are waiting for responses from the clubs so we will only know the numbers by then. Squad announcement is on Monday or Tuesday,’’ said Mpandare.
In terms of camp, the plans are to have all the players in by 30 August, with departure for Ethiopia still to be finalised.
“Camp is starting on the 30th, then date of leaving will be out next week because we had planned to leave on the 5th before we were told that our game will be on the 3rd,’’ Mpandare said.
The Warriors should have key players such as Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa, Marshal Munetsi and Tinotenda Kadewere who missed the last two Africa Cup of Nations fixtures. Khama Billiat has also recovered from injury and chances are high he will be available for the World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe played without their England and France based stars in the Africa Cup of Nations last two matches against Botswana and Zambia after foreign clubs decided not to release players over Covid-19 restrictions.
At that time, Fifa gave clubs the power to withhold players called up for national duty if they had to go into quarantine on return. That has however, changed as the world football governing body has ruled that clubs can no longer prevent players from leaving for international duty, even if quarantine is required upon return.
“When we played Algeria home and away, Fifa gave a directive that clubs were obliged to release players and if a club fails to release a player, they were going to be fined up to US$1 million and the same player would miss a number of games after the international break so with that no club was going to hold on to the players.
That is why we never had any problems but come Botswana and Zambia games, Fifa then said clubs are not obliged to release players if they are going to red zone areas and this is why most clubs were then reluctant to release their players,’’ explained Mpandare.
While the squad is yet to be announced, Sekhukhune United of South Africa have already announced that one of their players, Blessing Sarupinda has been called up for national duty.
“Congratulations to Yusuf Maart and Blessing Sarupinda on your national team call-ups. Maart (Bafana Bafana), Sarupinda (Zimbabwe),’’ tweeted Sekhukhune United last.
Sarupinda was one of the few outstanding players for Zimbabwe at this year’s Cosafa Cup held in Gqeberha, South Africa where the Warriors came back without a win. The Sunday News