Belgian-based captain Knowledge Musona is set to headline one of the strongest COSAFA Cup squads assembled by the Warriors as Zimbabwe look to stretch their impressive record in the tournament at the 2018 competition to be played from May 27-June 9.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa wants the Warriors to successfully defend the championship they won for a record fifth time in South Africa’s North West province last year and is considering a blend of experienced players and new faces for the competition.
Zimbabwe team manager Wellington Mpandare said Monday that former Kaizer Chiefs talisman Musona was definitely in the coach’s plans ahead of a technical meeting late Tuesday.
Mpandare said the Warriors coach intends to bring Musona and a host of Zimbabwe’s foreign legion for the tournament which the champions will enter at the quarter-final stage.
“We are going to meet a technical department sometime on Tuesday to discuss the squad call-up and when we can go into camp.
“The coach wants a longer camp because there a number of new faces he also wants to have a closer look before the COSAFA Cup starts.
“Obviously Knowledge being our captain is going to be part of this squad and unless something happens which might change the circumstances, he will lead the team in Limpopo and he has already confirmed his availability in the communication that we have had with him.
“The bulk of the squad will be made up of foreign-based players. We are looking at using the COSAFA Cup games as an opportunity for our team to gel into the unit that we want it to be by the time we resume our African Cup of Nations qualifiers in September,’’ Mpandare said.
The Warriors team manager said Zimbabwe had drawn some lessons from how such teams like Zambia’s Chipolopolo had kept the bulk of their squads intact for lengthy periods.
Mpandare said the Warriors technical department had a list of 45 Zimbabwean players dotted around the globe from which they were looking at trying some new faces.
These include midfielder Andy Rinemhota, who is on the books of English side Reading, and German-based striker Kelly Lunga, a son of former Zimbabwe international Max Lunga.
Australian-based goalkeeper Thando Velapi, who plays for Wellington Phoenix, is also among the untested players looking to earn their first Warriors caps.
It is Musona, however, who has the biggest profile in the squad that Zimbabwe are planning to call up.
Musona starred for Zimbabwe’s Young Warriors in the COSAFA Under-20 championship but is still to play for his country in the senior tournament.
The 27-year old striker who plays for Belgian top-flight side KV Oostende could be following in the footsteps of the legendary Peter Ndlovu.
Ndlovu, COSAFA Cup tournament’s all-time leading scorer with seven goals, used to fly regularly from England to play for Zimbabwe.
By Petros Kausiyo