ZIMBABWE – Uncertainties caused by the spate of injuries in the Warriors camp have forced coach Callisto Pasuwa to submit an initial squad of 20, instead of 23 players as required by CAF, ahead of the team’s departure for the Africa Nations Championships in Rwanda.
Pasuwa, though, did not name the players that he has included in his initial 20-man squad.
The deadline of the submission of the final squads was due last Wednesday, but teams can still make amendments to their squad lists.
But, while the majority of the participating clubs have since unveiled their teams, Pasuwa revealed yesterday that he has so far shortlisted 20 players for registration.
Pasuwa yesterday told reporters that he has decided to keep his truncated squad a secret in order to maintain the high spirits in the camp and to sustain the positive competition for places among the players.
However, the Zimbabwe coach was still to make up his mind on the remaining three players to fill up his squad complement, having contended with a string of injury worries that included midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, Marshall Mudehwe and Ocean Mushure.
Rodreck Mutuma and holding midfielder Gerald Takwara have also been down with illness, but both players are now back to full fitness.
The Warriors camp has continuously been rocked by injuries and from the initial squad of 32 Pasuwa was left with 27 players after they were forced to drop their captain Danny Phiri, goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya, Hillary Bakacheza and Raphael Kutinyu through injuries and the withdrawal of central defender Teenage Hadebe.
This left Pasuwa with a tough task to drop four more players from the current squad.
“We have been having some problems with knocks to some of the boys, but I think they have recovered well,” said Pasuwa.
“All the boys trained very well and of the 27 guys that we have I think we have to trim the team two-to-three days before we leave for Rwanda.
“We are worried in the sense that if we release one of the players then maybe at the last day of training we might have an injury. So we are very careful in terms of releasing these players.
“On the player registration at CAF, yes, we have talked to the secretariat who were working on that after we had agreed with the manager Shariff Mussa to register 20 players and then add the other players on a later date.
“So we have three slots remaining, but I think by tomorrow (today) or Wednesday we should be able to announce the final 23.
“Competition is there among the players and it’s healthy.
“The best player on the day will be chosen and we also consider the mentality of the player for selection, his approach to the game. I am happy we have wider pool of players that we can choose from.”
The technical department has indicated that they will have a certain bias for versatile players who can switch positions easily in the event that the scourge of injuries continues to stalk them.
The Warriors are expected to leave for Rwanda on Saturday when the opening games of the tournament will be played.
The Warriors yesterday held their morning training session at Walter Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries ground in Waterfalls and then returned to Gateway School in the afternoon.
The senior national team were invited by Magaya to use his new stadium for their training session yesterday and they will be hoping that they get the same blessings that helped the Mighty Warriors in their incredible journey to qualify for the Rio Olympic Summer Games this year.
The Mighty Warriors repeatedly received prayers from the prophet and they then defied the odds as they beat favourites Cameroon to book their place at the Olympic Games in Brazil.
They became the first Zimbabwe national football team to achieve such a feat and they will dine with the globe’s football aristocrats in the Brazil sunshine.
Zimbabwe will begin their CHAN campaign next Tuesday against neighbours Zambia.
They will then meet Uganda next Saturday before wrapping up the Group D matches with Mali on January 27.
Pasuwa was particularly worried with the lack of friendly matches after learning that their opponents Zambia and Uganda were busy at the weekend with international preparatory matches.
Zambia are currently camping in South Africa where they played Angola while Mali engaged Gabon on Sunday and have another date with Cameroon tomorrow.
“When training, of course, you might be satisfied, but you need also to compete with these other countries so that you can see how these youngsters fare.
“Remember some of the boys have been playing in the Under-23s and this is a senior competition. We wanted also to test these boys.
“I heard Zambia played Angola and they will also play Mamelodi Sundowns any day, which is one area we are lacking.
“Maybe our first friendly match of the tournament will be against Zambia in the opening game of the tournament. Probably the boys will try to adjust in that game, which is not conducive for us in terms of our preparation,” said Pasuwa.