By Mehluli Sibanda
Kaizer Chiefs forward, Khama Billiat is the front runner to stand in as captain for Zimbabwe’s remaining 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia.
Zimbabwe face South Africa at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday before they clash with Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium three days later.
The Warriors will be without regular captain Knowledge Musona who is injured. With his deputy Ovidy Karuru not selected, coach caretaker coach Norman Mapeza has to name a captain for the two matches.
Chances are high that the 31-year old Billiat, one of the most experienced players in the Warriors team having made his debut a decade ago will lead the troops in the two matches. Other contenders for the captaincy are Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba and Tendayi Darikwa, the captain of Wigan Athletic.
Wellington Mpandare, the Warriors team manager said there was no huury to appoint a captain, with the decision to be made once it clear on which players are available, even he could not rule Billiat leading the team.
“There is no hurry in appointing the captain, it will be done after the weekend games when we certain on who is coming,’’ said Mpandare.
From the squad announced by the Mapeza led technical team on Thursday, Ipswich Town striker Macauley Bonne has withdrawn after his English club gave bizarre reasons that the player cannot play in Southern African weather conditions.
An Ipswich Town official sent an email on Friday to say that the weather in Southern Africa is not suitable for him. Indications are that he wants to go to Cameroon but Mpandare indicated that the Warriors will continue wasting their time calling up Bonne who continues to snub call-ups to play for Zimbabwe despite acquiring a Zimbabwean passport in 2019.
Locally based players, six of them are assembling in Harare today before they leave for South Africa tomorrow where they will link up with their Mzansi dwelling teammates. Europe domiciled players are also flying straight to South Africa together with those playing club football in Zambia and in Tanzania.
Zimbabwe have their first training session on Tuesday and seeing that there is not enough time, Mapeza could opt for two sessions on that day. The Warriors will have a feel of the FNB Stadium turf on Wednesday evening, a day before they square off against Bafana Bafana under floodlights at the iconic venue.
With just one point secured from the 0-0 draw at home against South Africa in September, Zimbabwe are at the bottom of Group G.
Goalkeepers: Taimon Mvula (Dynamos), Donavan Bernard (Chicken Inn), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Bruce Kangwa (Azam), Divine
Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Godknows Murwira (Dynamos)
Midfielders: Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Gerald Takwara (Venda Football Academy), Farai Madhanaga (Marumo Gallants), Blessing Sarupinda (Sekhukhune), Tawanda Maswanhise (Leicester City) Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Jonah Fabisch (Hamburger SV), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Ismael Wadi (JDR Stars)
Strikers: David Moyo (Hamilton Academical), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows). The Sunday News