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Mhofu sticks to his lieutenants

Zimbabwe national soccer team coach Sunday Chidzambwa

HARARE-WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa is expected to stick to his tried and tested lieutenants when he picks his squad for the decisive Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo.

The Warriors, who lead Group G, need to avoid a potential banana skin against the Red Devils in the final group match at the National Sports Stadium on March 24.

Team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said the coach was hoping to have a strong squad in place moulded around the core of the players who have been involved in the bigger part of the campaign.

“This is an important game for us and, as a result, we want all our fit players available and we have to be well-prepared,’’ said Mpandare.

“The team has done so well to be where we are.

“The core of the squad is already there and I don’t think there will be wholesale changes to the team that has been playing.

“Of course, any team continuously needs appraisal but, in this case, if there are to be any changes the coach might probably pick one or two players to reinforce the areas he feels need to be strengthened.’’

The countdown to the final qualifier has been replete with both the good and bad.

German-based Kelly Lunga and Macauley Bonne are likely to be the only two new faces to be included if they get their Zimbabwean passports on time.

Mpandare said Lunga’s passport application papers were at an advanced stage.

Orlando Pirates’ Kuda Mahachi is also likely to fight for a return into the fold following his recent good form.

The likes of Ronald Pfumbidzayi, Talent Chawapihwa, Tino Kadewere, Teenage Hadebe, Marshall Munetsi, Alec Mudimu and goalkeeper George Chigova are enjoying good form at their clubs.

But there have been mixed fortunes for some of the key players like captain Knowledge Musona while attacking midfielder Khama Billiat has been largely anonymous since his move to Kaizer Chiefs.

Tendayi Darikwa is set to return from suspension after missing the last game away to Liberia where Zimbabwe lost 0-1.

Midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has recently not been seeing game time after a fall-out with his coach at Club Brugge.

“Generally, we are happy that most of our players are getting game time and some of them are doing quite well for their teams.

“The only dark spot probably is that Dzvukamanja is nursing an ankle injury. We will keep monitoring him and we hope by the time we start preparations for the game he will be up and about.

“Otherwise, the rest of the players that we have been tracking are fit and are playing for their teams regularly.

“Marvelous Nakamba could be a notable exception but we are convinced the reason he is not getting enough game time of late is not anything to do with lack of form.

“It’s a case where a coach is not happy that a player gets a red card and then decides to freeze him out.’’

Zimbabwe lead Group G with eight points. Liberia are second on seven points while DRC have five and Congo Brazzaville four.

All the teams still have a good chance of qualifying ahead of the last round of matches. Herald

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