HomeSportIt's OK, come Super Eagles'

It’s OK, come Super Eagles’

Darlington Majonga

WARRIORS assistant coach Brenna Msiska is not worried about Zimbabwe’s lackadaisical approach to next weekend’s qualifier against Nigeria, saying the country’s preparations for crucial mat

ches “have been like that for decades”.

Msiska spoke as Nigeria, who visit Harare for a crucial 2006 World Cup/African Cup of Nations qualifier next Sunday, began trooping into London for a brief camp before making the long trip to southern Africa on Tuesday.

“We don’t have to worry about how Nigeria are preparing. I think we will have enough time in camp with our players, at least five days before the game, and our preparations have been like that even before Reinhard Fabisch coached the Warriors,” Msiska told IndependentSport yesterday.

German national Fabisch is widely regarded as the best coach to take charge of the Warriors – in the early 90s – before Sunday Marimo took Zimbabwe to their maiden appearance at this year’s African Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia.

“The preparations have been like that for decades.”

Zimbabwe Football Association chairman Rafiq Khan bemoaned the lack of resources to ensure adequate preparations for the Warriors.

“We don’t have the resources to take the team to England or any country in Europe. But we try to make the best arrangements to help the team win. We also find it difficult to bring our foreign-based players for friendly matches,” Khan said earlier this week.

Msiska said all called-up players were expected to be in camp by Monday night.

“Unlike the Nigerians, we have the advantage of training as a whole squad at least five days before the game,” he said. “We broke up camp for this weekend but we expect our guys from abroad to start arriving tomorrow.”

French-based Benjamin Mwaruwari makes a welcome return to the Warriors and is expected to arrive in the country this weekend along with other players plying their trade in Europe – Shingirai Kawondera, Harlington Shereni, Energy Murambadoro, Newton Katanha and Joel Luphahla.

However, the bulk of the Warriors’ 17-man foreign-based legion will come from South Africa, where skipper Peter Ndlovu has found a new base after over a decade in Europe.

“Peter should be home by Monday, actually everyone is expected to be in camp by that time,” Msiska said. “We’ll definitely be ready and our chances are 50-50.”

Zimbabwe’s approach to crucial matches has always set tongues wagging, raising fears the Warriors’ poor preparations could militate against their bid to claim the scalp of the Super Eagles next week.

The Warriors’ friendly matches against Botswana and Uganda last week in the run-up to the crunch date have been rubbished as meaningless, considering Zimbabwe used only locally-based players whose chances of making the final squad are remote.

But Msiska has hinted about 10 domestic players are in the running for spots in the final squad, although he ruled out any “experiments”.

“We have 10 or so locally-based players who could make the final team. So no player will simply walk into the team just because they are from abroad,” Msiska said.

Msiska could not be drawn into revealing the shortlist of the domestic players who impressed the Warriors technical team – headed by Rahman Gumbo.

However, some analysts speculated the Caps United trio of Cephas Chimedza, Raymond Undi and David Sengu, Shabanie’s Method Mwanjali, Highlanders’ Honour Gombami and Herbert Dick of Amazulu may be among those who could make the grade.

Highlanders’ goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini is assured of his spot in the Warriors, while Amazulu midfielder Ronald Sibanda has been a regular feature.

Meanwhile, Nigeria have suffered a major setback after the injured duo of Obafemi Martins and George Abbey were dropped from the Harare trip.

Inter Milan forward Martins and right-back Abbey, who is unattached, have been replaced by uncapped defenders Chidi Odiah and Obinna Nwaneri.

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