By Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Warriors’ preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, in Egypt will go a gear up, when they take on Indian minnows Comoros, in the quarterfinals of the 2019 COSAFA Cup at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
The COSAFA Cup, forms part of the Warriors preparations for the continental showpiece and will end in Nigeria, where they are expected to play a friendly match against the Super Eagles on June 8.
Although Zimbabwe are using the regional tournament to prepare for AFCON, coach Sunday Chidzambwa has already expressed his desire to lead the Warriors to a successful defence of the COSAFA Cup.
Record six-time champions Zimbabwe, who have won the last two editions of the COSAFA Cup, will start their title defence at the quarterfinal stage against minnows Comoros.
The Indian Ocean Islanders made history with a first ever qualification for the Cosafa Cup quarterfinals following a 2-1 victory over Mauritius at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday.
The victory ensured Comoros finished top of Group A with four points, followed by Eswatini (two) and Mauritius (one).
Zimbabwe, who last played a competitive match during the AFCON final qualifying round against Congo in March, will be desperate to clear the Comoros hurdle as it would guarantee them more game time before their departure for Nigeria.
Chidzambwa’s hopes of completing a hatrick of COSAFA Cup titles have been boosted by the presence of inspirational skipper Knowledge Musona, who only joined camp in Durban on Wednesday.
Musona reportedly requested his inclusion in the COSAFA squad, for the first time, to get game time following a disappointing season at Belgian outfit Anderlecht which ended with him being loaned out to Lokeren.
The Warriors will however be without the services of Belgium based midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and South Africa-based Kuda Mahachi, who is expected to tie the knot with his girlfriend on Saturday.
Mahachi along with his friend Nakamba, who is his best man, have asked for exemption since the wedding takes place on the same day Zimbabwe are expected to open their account at the COSAFA Cup and are only expected in camp on Sunday.
While Nakamba is expected to feature in the COSAFA Cup if the Warriors clear the quarterfinal hurdle, Mahachi along with goalkeeper George Chigova and Danny Phiri will not be involved in the regional after being rested by the technical team.
Uncertainty still surrounds the availability England-born forward Macauley Bonne for the AFCON finals as he is yet to acquire his Zimbabwean passport while China-based forward Nyasha Mushekwi will only join the squad in Nigeria before departing for Egypt.
Zimbabwe are in Group A at this year’s AFCON finals and will get the ball rolling when they face the hosts in the opening match on June 21.
Chidzambwa’s charges will also face DR Congo and Uganda in the group games.
Zimbabwe COSAFA Squad
Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda, Tanunurwa Talbert Shumba, Elvis Chipezeze
Defenders: Dennis Dauda, Lawrence Mhlanga, Jimmy Denis Dzingai, Byron Madzokere, Alec Takunda Mudimu, Teenage Lingani Hadebe, Divine Xolile Lunga, Tapiwa Ronald Pfumbidzai, Tendayi David Darikwa
Midfielders: Marshall Nyasha Munetsi, Marvelous Nakamba, Butholezwe Mzomsuthu Ncube, Tafadzwa Raphael Kutinyu, Ovidy Obvious Karuru, Khama Billiat, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Tafadzwa Paul Rusike, Richard Cuthbert Hachiro, Talent Chawapihwa, Leeroy Mavunga, Knowledge Musona, Thabani Michael Kamusoko
Strikers: Evans Rusike, Walter Tatenda Musona, Philana Tinotenda Kadewere, Knox Mutizwa, Admiral Dalindlela Muskwe