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Big Boost For Warriors Ahead Of World Cup Qualifiers

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By Sports Reporter


THE Zimbabwe Warriors have been handed a major selection boost ahead of next month’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia.

This is after it emerged that the team’s European-based players who were doubtful for the matches due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and quarantine rules in Europe are now set to be available for selection ahead of the two crucial encounters.

World football governing body FIFA announced on Sunday that European clubs will no longer be able to hold on to their international players even if they face quarantine on their return from national duty during the September international window.

FIFA had given the clubs a temporary waiver to deny their players permission to go for international duty last year.

This was in the wake of the stringent travel restrictions put in place around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Warriors were affected by the new ruling, with most Europe-based players missing the last two 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia in March.

After being forced to field a makeshift squad for the AFCON qualifiers the Warriors technical team was sweating over the availability of its Europe-based players ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

However, FIFA’s new directive has handed the team a big boost with most national team stars such as Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa, Jordan Zemura, Brendan Galloway among others now expected to feature in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

A FIFA spokesperson told The Mail on Sunday newspaper: “The temporary amendment was in place until April 2021 and is no longer in effect nor is it intended to be applied for September.

“Since the outset of the pandemic, FIFA has continued to work in close cooperation with the confederations, member associations and respective authorities, monitoring the different restrictions and exemptions around the world.

“The regulations have reflected this process, as best as is possible at the global level.

“FIFA is confident that the situation will continue as it was the case in June for qualifiers and final continental tournaments and that players will be able to travel to play with their national teams and return to play with their clubs.”

Zimbabwe will face South Africa in their first Group G game before travelling to Ethiopia for their second outing during the international week of September 1-8.