Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa has named his squad as he seeks to lead the Warriors to a first COSAFA Castle Cup triumph since he was at the helm of the side in 2009.
Chidzambwa guided Zimbabwe to the title on home soil eight years ago with a 3-1 victory over Zambia in the final, but since then they have been losing finalists to the same opposition in 2013, and then suffered disappointing first round exits in 2015 and 2016.
The veteran coach has called on five players based in South Africa for his squad this year, as well as a selection of up-and-coming talents from the Zimbabwe Premier League.
Goalkeeper George Chigova (Polokwane City), defender Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town), midfielders Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu) and Michelle Katsvairo (Kaizer Chiefs), and striker Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), make up the contingent of players based outside of Zimbabwe.
The selection of Mutizwa in particular will be exciting for fans after he excelled during a loan spell at Golden Arrows from BidVest Wits. He netted five goals in the second half of the campaign, including against both Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Chidzambwa’s selection was restricted to a point by the fact that the ZPL continues through the COSAFA Castle Cup tournament, meaning some players he might have liked to take to South Africa are not available.
But he has been able to bring in-form Bantu Rovers striker Bukhosi Sibanda for the tournament, with the red-hot striker having netted 10 times for his club already this season.
Zimbabwe start their campaign on Monday against Mozambique at the Moruleng Stadium, before clashes with Madagascar at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on June 28 and Seychelles at the same venue on June 30.
They finished their pool campaign at last year’s tournament in Namibia with a thumping 5-0 success over Seychelles.
If Zimbabwe top their group they will face Swaziland in the quarterfinals on July 2, with the winner of that tie meeting either Namibia or Lesotho in the next round.
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Takabva Mawaya (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Talbert Mutombeni (Chapungu)
Defenders: Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town), Ocean Mushure (Dynamos), Honest Moyo (Highlanders), Bruce Homora (Black Rhinos), Jimmy Tigere (Harare City), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Nyasha Mpofu (Shabanie)
Midfielders: Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Gerald Takwara (FC Platinum) Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Talent Chawapiwa (FC Platinum), Michelle Katsvairo (Kaizer Chiefs), Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken Inn), Collins Duwa (Shabanie)
Forwards: Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Bukhosi Sibanda (Bantu Rovers), Blessing Majarira (Herentals), Raphael Manuvire (ZPC Kariba)