Zimbabwe coach Mandla Mpofu has named an extended training squad in preparation for the 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, sponsored by PPC, to be staged in South Africa’s North West province from December 7-16.
Mpofu will run his eye over the selection before announcing his final picks as Zimbabwe seek to claim a first regional title at this level since 2007.
Some of the country’s finest young talent has been included, not least 16-year-old Clive Rupiya from the Sprouting Soccer Academy.
All eyes will be on Highlanders youngster Prince Dube should he make the final list. He has been a revelation in the Zimbabwe Premier League this season and is line to win the Rookie of the Year prize.
The 19-year-old is seen as one of the biggest up-and-coming stars in Zimbabwe and his progress will be eagerly monitored.
The Young Warriors side has been amongst the most successful teams in the history of the competition with six wins in all.
Since their last victory in 2007 they have reached the semifinals in four of the last five tournaments, but only managed a pair of third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010.
Though they will be confident of lifting the trophy in South Africa, they face a major hurdle in the opening round when they tackle the most successful side in the history of the tournament, Zambia, who have 10 previous regional titles.
With only one team to advance to the semifinals, it will be a major battle with Malawi the third team in the pool.
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 TRAINING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Elisha Nechiturike, Nelson Chadya, Prince Phiri, Kelvin Shangiwa.
Defenders: Last Kapuya, Derwin Phiri, Angel Dexter, Bukhosi Ncube, Prince Motsi, Kuzivakwashe Madina, Simbarashe Chimanikire, Tatenda Mchisi, Shepherd Maradzamunda, Frederick Dzeka.
Midfielders: Learnmore Munyambo, Patrick Musaka, Brave Sibanda, Denzil Khumalo, Amos Ncube, Bukhosi Sibanda, Leeroy Mavunga, Munyaradzi Chitambwe, Raynold Mate, Donnet Ndlovu, Hughe Chikosa, Bright Majamanda, Brighton Mhungu.
Strikers: Prince Dube, Thomas Kadyaridzire, Jerry Chipangura, Nqobile Ndlovu, Blessing Sibanda, Knowledge Ndlovu, Ishmael Mushekwi, Tatenda Tumba, Clive Rupiya, King Nasama, Frederick Muza.