Zimbabwe coach Bekithemba Ndlovu has named a 29-man provisional squad for the 2017 Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championship that will be staged in Zambia from December 6-16.
The Young Warriors will be hoping to improve on their 2016 showing when they exited in the first round and add to their six previous titles in the regional showpiece competition.
After an extensive scouting programme in Harare and Bulawayo, Ndlovu has called 29 players into camp, including senior international Leroy Mavunga, who was part of the side that claimed the COSAFA Castle Cup in South Africa this year. Also included is South Africa-based Kudakwashe Mangami, with 14 different clubs represented overall.
The carrot being dangled in front of the Zimbabwean players are the number of scouts from mostly South African clubs who will be at the tournament to look out for new talent from a country that has a long history of sending quality players to play in the South African league.
Zimbabwe have been drawn in Group C at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships along with Angola, Namibia and Lesotho. Only the top team in each pool advanced to the semifinals, along with the best-placed runner-up.
“There is no easy group, there is no group of death but all of them are tough because all of the teams, from what I have seen, can play football,” Ndlovu told reporters earlier this month.
“So, even our group, we are going there to compete and we are going there knowing that every team, which we are going to play against, is a strong team.
“Obviously we would want to win the cup, but there will be one winner at the end of the tournament. So, like I said, we are going there to compete, we are going in there to try and win games also.”
Zimbabwe start their campaign against Lesotho at the Nkana Stadium on December 7, before a clash with Angola at the same venue three days later. They round out their pool play with a match versus Namibia at the Arthur Davies Stadium on December 11.
Provisional Zimbabwe Squad:
Goalkeepers: Onil Benson (ZPC Kariba), Reward Muza (Chicken Inn), Issah Ali (Caps United)
Defenders: Bukhosi Ncube (Highlanders), Mbongiseni Ndlovu (Highlanders), Nyasha Garayi (Bantu Rovers), Kudzashe Dzingwe (Bantu Rovers), Nkosana Ndlovu (Highlanders), Terrance Daka (Aces Youth Academy) Collins Mujuru (Aces Youth Academy), Denzel Taderera (Shabanie Mine), Davison Ncube (Chapungu)
Midfielders: Enock Karembo (Yadah Stars), Malvin Kwinjo (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Nivholas Guyo (Aces Youth Academy), Leroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars), Blessing Nyamuzihwa (ZPC Kariba), Shadreck Nyahwa (Bantu Rovers), Tatenda Muringani (Dynamos), Dumoluhle Lunga (Bulawayo City), Denzel Khumalo (Highlanders), Tanaka Chanengeta (How Mine), Clive Rupiya (Bulawayo City)
Strikers: Nqobile Ndlovu (How Mine), Brighton Ncube (Bantu Rovers), Delic Murimba (Hwange), Kudakwashe Mangami (Bantu FC, South Africa) Mandla Mlilo (Ngezi Platinum Stars), King Nasama (Dynamos)