HARARE - The Zimbabwe Warriors technical team early this week settled for troops who have been in the trenches for some time as they bid to clinch a quarter-final berth at the Africa Cup of Nations as well as defend the Cosafa title they won last year.
Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in the region which will use the same squad for both the Cosafa and AFCON tournaments.
The regional fiesta is set for Durban, South Africa, from May 25 with the finals set to be staged on June 8 while the continental jamboree starts in Egypt on June 21.
But Zimbabwe face Nigeria in a friendly tie in Nigeria on June 8, and the technical team will have to juggle their cards well if their team reaches the Cosafa final which takes place on the same day.
Assistant coach Lloyd Mutasa said they will take the Cosafa games as training matches ahead of the AFCON tournament.
“Obviously our decision to select our team to play in both the Cosafa and the AFCON tournaments may not be the most popular one but it is very necessary from a technical point of view,” said Mutasa.
“We are taking the Cosafa matches very seriously as these swill be our practice games. A team always need to play practice matches and in this case the Cosafa tournament will serve that purpose.
“If we then go all the way to the final in the Cosafa, which will coincide with our high-profile friendly match against Nigeria, we will just split the squad, taking 18 players to Nigeria and leaving out others to play in the final.
“Just after the final, five other players will then follow to join the 18 on the way to Egypt.
“So basically that is what we have planned as a team and we are sure it will help in a very big way.”
The team is also expected to secure another friendly encounter against high-profile opposition before the Cosafa tournament kicks off.
Zimbabwe have been to the AFCON on three previous occasions but they have failed to break the group stages’ ceiling in each of those times.
But this time around, the technical team believe they have a strong enough squad to at least reach the quarter final.
The team is pooled in Group A along with Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the hosts, Egypt, whom they face in the tournament’s opening encounter in Cairo on June 21.
The team has since been promised huge incentives including residential stands if they reach the quarter final stage at the biannual tournament whose field has been increased from 16 to 24.
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City, SA), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank spurs,SA), Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka,SA), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu, Zimbabwe). Defenders: Dennis Dauda (Lusaka Dynamos, Zambia), Lawrence Mhlanga (FC Platinum, Zimbabwe), Jimmy Dzingai (Power Dynamos, Zambia), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars, Zambia), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids, Wales), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows, SA), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic, SA), Tendai Darikwa (Nottingham Forest, England).
Midfielders: Danny Phiri (Lamontiville Golden Arrows, SA), Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates, SA), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge KV, Belgium), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu, SA), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam, Tanzania), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu, SA), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs, SA), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando Pirates, SA), Tafadzwa Rusike (Zanaco, Zambia), Richard Hachiro (Herentals, Zimbabwe), Talent Chawapihwa (Amazulu, SA), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars, Zimbabwe), Knowledge Musona (RSC Anderlecht, Belgium), Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans SC, Tanzania), Rodwell Chinyengetere (Baroka FC, SA).
Strikers: Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang, China), Walter Musona (Polokwane City, SA), Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre Athletic Club, France), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontiville Golden Arrows, SA), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City, England).