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Warriors coach takes huge gamble

The Brazilian, who also doubles up as Highlanders coach, yesterday named a provisional squad of 27 players for the two matches which will both be played at the Huye Stadium in Rwanda.

WARRIORS coach Baltimore Brito has taken a huge gamble by inviting a number of foreign-based players for the team’s World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda and Nigeria later this month, some of whom have previously turned down the offer to play for the national team.

The Brazilian, who also doubles up as Highlanders coach, yesterday named a provisional squad of 28 players for the two matches which will both be played at the Huye Stadium in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe play Rwanda on November 15 before “hosting” the Super Eagles at the same venue four days later.

The Warriors will play their home match against Nigeria in Rwanda as Zimbabwe has no Caf-certified stadiums.

Ahead of the two crucial matches, which will announce the team’s return to international football following the Fifa ban, Brito yesterday announced a squad predominantly made up of foreign-based players.

Only seven players on the list were drawn from the domestic league.

There are fears that some of the players will not turn up for the match.

Players such as Andy Rinemhota of Cardiff City in England, Tawanda Maswanhise of Leicester City and Tivonge Rushesha have previously been called up for Warriors duty, but did not show up.

There are also a number of new faces in the squad, including Liverpool’s highly-rated Isaac Mabaya, Brentford goalkeeper Marley Tavaziva and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Leon Chiwome.

The three, who play for the English Premier League giants’ developmental squads, were all born in England, with Mabaya and Chiwome having already represented their country of birth at youth levels.

Some of the England-born players have previously failed to turn up for the Warriors because of the difficulties in getting a Zimbabwean passport.

And with just two weeks before the Rwanda match, it’s unlikely that Zifa will be able to get the players’ documents sorted on time.

England-born Tendayi Darikwa, who missed the Warriors’ last few matches, is set to bounce back in the strong-looking squad, and so is South Africa-based goalkeeper Washington Arubi.

The France-based pair of Marshal Munetsi and Tino Kadewere, Luton’s Marvelous Nakamba and United States-based Teenage Hadebe are the other senior players who are expected to lead the squad as they seek to make their first-ever qualification to the World Cup to be hosted by the Americas in 2026.

Zimbabwe are in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, whose other group members are South Africa, Lesotho and Benin.

The team that will top the group will automatically qualify for the global football jamboree to be jointly hosted by Canada, United States of America and Mexico.

Warriors provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Benard Donovan (Chicken Inn), Washington Arubi (SuperSport United, South Africa), Martin Mapisa (FC Malaga City, Spain), Marley Tavaziva (Brentford, England).

Defenders: Tendayi Darikwa (Apolon Limassol, Cyprus), Andrew Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa (Highlanders), Frank Makarati (Dynamos), Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo, USA), Munashe Garananga (Sheriff Tiraspol, Moldova), Brendon Galloway (Plymouth Argyle, England), Jordan Zemura (Udinese, Spain), Tivonge Rushesha (Reading, England)

Midfielders: Brian Banda (FC Platinum), Marshal Munetsi (Stade de Reims, France), Andy Rinemhota (Cardiff City, Wales), Marvelous Nakamba (Luton, England), Gerald Takwara (Ohod, Saudi Arabia), Isaac Mabaya (Liverpool, England), Tanaka Shandirwa (Dynamos)

Strikers: Obriel Chirinda (Bulawayo Chiefs), Prince Dube (Azam, Tanzania), Tino Kadewere (Olympique Lyon, France), Admiral Muskwe (Exeter City, England), Walter Musona (FC Platinum), Terrence Dzvukamanja (SuperSport United, South Africa), Leon Chiwome (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Tawanda Maswanhise (Leicester, England)

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