Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa has revealed his intentions of making full use of the 2018 COSAFA Cup, scheduled for Polokwane from May 27-June 9, to fully prepare his Warriors for the resumption of their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
The veteran coach yesterday named a 33-man squad, easily the strongest ever assembled by Zimbabwe for a COSAFA tournament with the country’s foreign legion providing the bulk of the players.
Only eight of the home-grown talent playing in the domestic Premiership have made the squad with two of them – goalkeepers Chang Mariyoni of Triangle and Ngezi Platinum Stars’ Donovan Bernard – virtually providing cover to the giant pair of George Chigova of Polokwane City and Witbank Sours’ Edmore Sibanda.
Chidzambwa, a record three-time winner of the COSAFA Cup as coach, called on all his best stars including the Belgium-based pair of skipper Knowledge Musona and midfielder Marvellous Nakamba.
Khama Billiat, who has just won the ABSA Premeirship with Mamelodi Sundowns in what seems his swansong season with the2016 African champions, has also been included as has been Kaizer Chief defender Teenage Hadebe, Evans Rusike of SuperSport United and Amazulu’s Ovidy Karuru, who captained the Warriors to COSAFA Cup success last year at the tournament staged in South Africa’s North West province.
Chidzambwa praised the organisers of the COSAFA Cup for what he termed “perfect timing of the competition’’ which he said provides him with a rare opportunity to have his players together for a long time.
“We are looking beyond the COSAFA tournament. We will not have much time together between now and when the AFCON qualifiers resume in September as the payers would need to go back to their foreign bases for pre-season training.
“So at least if we start our preparations for the AFCON now and at the same time aim to defend our COSAFA Cup title it will help us a lot.
“I must say for us in Zimbabwe it is a rare opportunity where you can have everyone in camp for a longer period and at the same you are guaranteed more than one match before you play in the Nations Cup qualifiers,’’ Chidzambwa said.
The Zimbabwe coach expects to have all his players in camp on ma24, which will guarantee them a week of training before they travel to Polokwane to face the winners of Group B in the quarter finals.
Champions Zimbabwe and other seeded teams like South Arica and Zambia enter the competition at the quarter-final stage.
ZIMBABWE COSAFA Cup 2018 Provisional squad
George Chigova (Polokwane City)
Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs)
Donovan Bernard (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Chang Mariyoni (Triangle)
Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids)
Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs)
Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum)
Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars)
Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest)
Jameson Mukombwe (FC Platinum)
Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Harare City)
Costa Nhamoinesu (AC Sparta Prague)
Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic)
Honest Moyo (Highlanders)
Adam Chicksen (Bradford City)
Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates)
Richard Hachiro (Herentals)
Andy Rinomhota (Reading)
Kundai Benyu (Oldham Athletic
Abbas Amidu (Entag El Harby)
Talent Chawapiwa (Baroka)
Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars)
Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu)
Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Singida United)
Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge)
Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende)
Evans Rusike (Supersport United)
Macaulley Bonne (Leyton Orient)
Tinotenda Kadewere (Djurgardens IF)
Kelly Lunga (Bonner SC)
Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City)