THE Young Warriors’ journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics will begin on Saturday when the team troops into camp ahead of next week’s international friendly match against the Botswana senior side in Gaborone.
The match, set for Botswana’s National Stadium on Tuesday, will be held to commemorate the host nation’s independence day.
Young Warriors head coach Kalisto Pasuwa has selected a youthful side for the match as the team begins preparations for the 2015 DR Congo U-23 African Championships which will culminate in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Only locally-based players have been selected for this assignment although coaches said they would want to have a look at other eligible foreignbased players in future assignments.
Zimbabwe is part of 12 teams that will go through the first round qualifiers of the 2015 DR Congo U-23 African Championships where they would face Swaziland. If they manage to progress to the next stage, they will face neighbours South Africa before the third and final qualifying round.
Third-round winners will proceed with hosts Democratic Republic of Congo to the December 5 to 19 2015 finals, from where the top three finishers will head to Brazil. The qualifiers will begin in April next year.
It appears Zimbabwe appreciate the daunting task ahead of them in making it to Rio, thereby accepting Botswana’s invitation for the Tuesday match.
The Young Warriors technical team yesterday announced a youthful 18-member squad for the trip to Gaborone, which would be led into battle by the team’s coach Saul Chaminuka in the absence of Pasuwa who will be in Egypt attending a Fifa training programme for national team coaches and a review of the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
Chaminuka, who also doubles up as coach of Castle Lager Premier Soccer League side ZPC Kariba, would be assisted by Hwange’s Nation Dube. The squad is dominated by players who were part of the national Under-20 side that took part in the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in Lesotho last year.
Most of the players play in the Premier League, except for DC Academy’s Carlos Rusere. But the midfielder was also part of the Young Warriors’ Cosafa squad.
Chaminuka is happy with the squad he will lead to Botswana.
“This is the first time many of these guys have been together, therefore we will use this match to assess them to determine if they are the crop to take us to the next level,” Chaminuka told Zifa’s official website www.zifa.org.zw.
“However, we have confidence in the selected players and the technical team is optimistic of grinding a positive result in Botswana.”
All players participating in the preliminary and final tournament of U-23 African Championships should have been born on or after January 1 1993.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said the team will troop into camp on Saturday and leave on Sunday.
“We expect the boys to be in camp by Saturday evening and they will travel on Sunday. After this game this newly-assembled team will play numerous friendly matches to afford coaches ample time to assess, improve and modify it before the qualifiers commence,” he said.
After the Botswana game, the Young Warriors are scheduled to play Tanzania and Morocco on October 8 and November 16 respectively.
For the Tanzania and Morocco matches, the technical team would want to have all eligible players including foreign-based players, particularly those stationed in Europe, if their teams will release them.
Some of the notable players based outside the country who are still eligible for the qualifiers include SA Mamelodi Sundowns’ Kuda Mahachi, Marvellous Nakamba (Netherlands), Archford Gutu (Sweden), and teenage sensation Macauley Bonne of English League One side Colchester United, who has already made himself available for the Young Warriors among a host of others scattered around the globe.
Young Warriors 18-member squad for Botswana:
Bernard Donovan (How Mine), Tatenda Mukuruva (Dynamos), Blessing Moyo (Dynamos), Praise Tonha (Triangle),
Liberty Chakoroma (Buffaloes), Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum), Lawrence Mhlanga (Chicken Inn), Keith Mavunga (ZPC Kariba), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Caps United), Nqobizitha Masuku (Bantu Rovers), Wisdom Mutasa (FC Platinum),
Brian Muzondiwa (Black Rhinos), Walter Musona (FC Platinum), Emmanuel Mandiranga (How Mine), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Bantu Rovers), Gabriel Nyoni (Highlanders), Knox Mutizwa (Highlanders), Carlos Rusere Carlos (DC Academy).