Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa (pictured) has targeted reaching the quarterfinals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after naming a squad with a mixture of foreign and locally-based players ahead of the tournament which kicks off on January 14 in Gabon.
By Kevin Mapasure
Pasuwa’s squad contains three European-based players with the South African league providing the larger chunk while the local topflight is well represented with seven players in the squad.
The former Warriors midfielder opted to go largely with players who did duty during the qualifiers with Sweden-based forward Tino Kadewere, goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya and Oscar Machapa of AS Vita Club of the DRC among those that were not involved in the qualifiers.
Pasuwa said he wants to see his team improve on past performances at the continental showcase where Zimbabwe failed to progress from the group stages in their two appearances at the 2004 and 2006 finals.
“We have a very good pool of players such that we are confident that we can go out there and compete,” Pasuwa said.
“Our main target when we go there is to improve on our previous performances. On the last two occasions we were knocked out in the group stages so we are saying this time we want to reach the quarterfinals then we will see what else we can achieve.”
Zimbabwe will come up against Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia who all draw most of their players from big European leagues but Pasuwa believes his charges are just as good as some of the English Premier League and French topflight stars they will come up against.
Algeria will be parading, among others, Leicester forwards Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani while Senegal have the talents of Liverpool striker Sadio Mane and West Ham midfielder Cheikou Kouyate, to mention two of their big-name players.
Pasuwa sees this as an opportunity for Zimbabwean players to break into the top European leagues.
Zimbabwe, who are expected to leave the country tonight for a training camp in Cameroon, open their account on January 15 against Algeria before they clash with Senegal four days later, rounding off with a match against Tunisia on January 23.
Goalkeepers: Bernard Donovan Fungai (How Mine), Mkuruva Tatenda (Dynamos), Mawaya Takabva (ZPC Kariba)
Defenders: Nhamoinesu Costa (AC Sparta Praha), Mhlanga Lawrence (Chicken Inn), Muroiwa Elisha (Dynamos), Hadebe Teenage Lingani (Chicken Inn), Bhasera Onismor (Supersport United), Kangwa Bruce (Azam FC), Machapa Oscar (AS Vita Club), Zvirekwi Hardlife (Caps United)
Midfielders: Phiri Danny (Golden Arrows), Katsande Willard (Kaizer Chiefs), Nakamba Marvelous (Vitesse Arnhem), Mahachi Kudakwashe (Golden Arrows), Billiat Khama (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Strikers: Musona Knowledge (KV Oostende), Ndoro Tendai (Orlando Pirates), Kadewere Philana Tinotenda (Djurgardens IF), Mushekwi Nyasha (Dalian Yifang), Rusike Evans (Maritzburg United), Rusike Tyrell Matthew Benjamin (Club Sportif Sfaxien), Malajila Cuthbert Lifasi (Bidvest Wits).