Ray Bande Senior Reporter
SAKUBVA-born Ngezi Platinum utility player Liberty Chakoroma is over the moon following his late Warriors call up ahead of the crucial Total Caf Africa Cup of Nations Group G qualifier away to Congo Brazaville.
The Warriors will fly out to Congo Brazzaville for the September 9 clash which marks the resumption of their 2019 Nations Cup qualification bid. The match is likely to be highly charged as the hosts will be out to get their campaign back on track after suffering a 1-3 defeat at the hands of neighbours Democratic Republic of Congo while the Warriors are on top of Group G thanks to a superior goal difference after they dismissed Liberia 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare in the opening round of group matches played in June last year.
But it is the former Zamba Primary and Elise Gledhill High student, who was overlooked in the provisional squad announced recently that featured some unfamiliar foreign based players, who says he is excited by the call to join the national team. The 2016 Soccer Star of the Year finalist has been part of the national team set up before and last featured for the Warriors in the 0-1 defeat at the hands of Namibia in a Presidential Cup match for that country.
“It is exciting to be called for national duty. It motivates one to do more. It is an indication that one has got something that the coaches think will add value to the team.
“I am happy to be part of the national team. Even though I have been there before, it always feels like the first time each time you are given a chance to play for your country,” he said.
Chakoroma must have attracted the attention of the Warriors technical department through his exploits at the heart of Ngezi Platinum defence. The 24 year old Chakoroma, who snatched double accolades as Ngezi Platinum Stars’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year at the end of the 2016 season, still has age on his side.
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa is being forced to adjust the squad almost on a daily basis with a growing injury list that also saw the withdrawal of Czech-based defender Costa Nhamoinesu.
Nhamoinesu, joined the casualty list that also includes midfielder Ovidy Karuru and Marvellous Nakamba who have already been sidelined by injuries. There are also some genuine fears now that in-form striker Nyasha Mushekwi’s much-anticipated return to the national team could also be scuppered by a complex medical condition he needs to deal with.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mpandare revealed that they had since replaced Sparta Prague defender Nhamoinesu with Bloemfontein Celtic’s Ronald Pfumbidzai. Mpandare is still running around to try and secure on time, passports for defenders Tendai Darikwa of Nottingham Forest, Bradford City’s Adam Chicksen as well as SC Bonner forward Kelvin Lunga.
“I have been talking to Nyasha and he has IDS and he should undergo endoscopy in South Africa. He will talk to a doctor to seek advice on all that and we sought to be proactive and bring in Knox as cover,” Mpandare said.
The Warriors are expected to arrive by September 3 so that the coach can have a few days of training with them before they leave for Congo.
“The bulk of the players will fly in on 3 September. Knowledge (Musona) has a game on the 1st September and then flies here the following day. The South African clubs will finish their matches on 30, 31 August but Orlando Pirates have another match so Kuda (Mahachi) and Marshal (Munetsi) will come on September 3. We are working on the bookings so that by September 3 we should have the bulk of the team. We are also finalising on our travelling itinerary to Brazzaville. We are not leaving anything to chance or last minute rush.
“Games are underway at various clubs, so injuries are likely to happen and we should even expect more but we had anticipated that by naming an enlarged squad so at the end of the day we will be forced to make a few changes,” said Mpandare.