Gala readies youth for Warriors duty

Enock Muchinjo



ZIMBABWE are set to give maiden caps to a number of young players in an invitational four-nation football tournament to commemorate Mozambique’s ind

ependence in Maputo this weekend.


The emergence of the youth brigade has been one of the positives in a season that has almost reached the halfway stage with no sponsor for the top-flight league.


The Mozambique tournament provides a good chance for the young players to stake a claim for permanent places in the Warriors.


In comes Dynamos sensation Evans Gwekwerere, who is already being touted as a future international star for Zimbabwe. Other premiership stars expected to grab the opportunity with both hands include the likes of strikers Ralph Matema and Heavens Chinyama as well as left wingback Zephaniah Ngodzo.


National team coach Charles Mhlauri believes his players will get good experience from the tournament.


“They will learn a lot from the tournament,” he said. “They still have a lot to learn from playing at this level. There are a lot of areas of their game they have to improve.”


The team, whose average age is 22, includes two South Africa-based players.


“We have got a clear-cut objective, which is to broaden the player base,” Mhlauri said. “We want to integrate players into the national team for the 2008 (African) Nations Cup qualifiers. We are not going there (Mozambique) for results. We are going there to develop a team.”


Mhlauri says the side for the tournament has been chosen on current form in the local league, but said some in-form players have been left out as they can no longer be regarded as “young” in football terms.


“We are taking players who are playing well but with potential to develop. England chose a player (Theo Walcott) who has not played a game in their premiership for the World Cup because they see potential in him,” he said. “There are other players who are playing well, but we looked at their ages and they are over the hill.”


Hosts Mozambique, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are taking part.

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