BY FORTUNE MBELE
Warriors coach Norman Mapeza’s chances of successfully bringing United Kingdom-based stars for the World Cup qualifiers against Ghana next month have improved, with authorities moving towards an amicable solution to the club versus country row that has been raging over the last month.
The Warriors take on Ghana in Group G back-to-back Fifa World Cup qualifier ties next month and after England refused to release players for the last qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia due to COVID-19 protocol complications, things are looking good for national teams under United Kingdom red-zone classification.
Players that might be called up for the Warriors game include Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth), Brendan Galloway (Portsmouth), Macauley Bonne (Ispwich Town), Admiral Muskwe (Luton) and David Moyo who plays for Scottish side Hamilton Academical.
All the players were called up by former coach Zdravko Logarušić for the last qualifiers, but were all blocked by their clubs, who felt they would lose out as they would be forced to quarantine for 10 days upon return and subsequently miss two matches.
Reports from the UK yesterday suggested that following a meeting among Premier League clubs on Thursday, it was agreed that players travelling to the red zone areas would be allowed to travel for the matches next month.
The UK government wants the players to be housed in strict bio-bubble conditions for them to be exempt from the quarantine requirements.
“Quarantine exemptions for Premier League players travelling to red-list countries for international duty are being discussed in a bid to avoid another player release row ahead of the October break. The PA news agency understands senior management at topflight clubs were updated on the progress of talks between the league, the government and Fifa at a Premier League shareholders’ meeting in London on Wednesday. There remains a possibility of an agreement being reached to avoid players having to quarantine for 10 days on their return. That could involve strict conditions on players entering COVID-19-secure bubbles once they join up with their national team, and then returning to a similar set-up at their clubs.”
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela yesterday said they had sent correspondence to the respective clubs in England to release players and they were awaiting responses.
“We have written to the clubs in England requesting the release of players. We wrote to the clubs last week and they have said they will get back to us,”he said.
“That is the procedure; we request the player and they respond and if they cite any reason like COVID-19 for non-release of a player, then we engage. We also hope that Fifa is seized with the matter. The Fifa regulations on the release of players are clear, players have to be released.”
United States-based Teenage Hadebe was also blocked from travelling by his club Houston Dynamo last month, but some players based in Europe that made it include France-based Tino Kadewere and Marshal Munetsi, among others.
Zimbabwe will seek to have players released for the away match in Ghana, which is not in the red zone, if the UK clubs insist on blocking players from travelling to Zimbabwe.
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