Double Injury Scare For Warriors Ahead Of AFCON Opener

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By Sports Reporter

THE Warriors have suffered a double injury scare ahead of their first match of the Africa Cup of Nations against Senegal on January 10.

This after the pair of goalkeeper Petros Mhari and winger Kudakwashe Mahachi limped off during the practice match against Sudan Sunday.

Zimbabwe played out a goalless draw in their first preparatory match ahead of the continental showpiece.

However, the match might have come at a heavy price for the Warriors technical team after Mhari and Mahachi suffered injuries.

The technical team headed by coach Norman Mapeza decided to immediately substitute Mhari when he showed some discomfort after landing awkwardly while making a save. The FC Platinum goal minder was replaced by Talbert Shumba.

Mahachi, who started in the left-wing position, picked a knock in the first half and was replaced by Onismor Bhasera.

The two injuries could be another blow to the Warriors who lost key players like Marvelous Nakamba, Marshall Munetsi, and Brendan Galloway to injuries while Khama Billiat and Tendayi Darikwa excused themselves from the selection.

The Warriors are in Cameroonian capital Yaoundé since Thursday and Mapeza seeks to come up with the right combinations and tactics ahead of the tournament.

The tournament kicks off this weekend.

Mapeza has been training with a squad of 18 players.

They are expected to be joined by five overseas-based players, that include skipper Knowledge Musona before they depart Yaoundé for Bafoussam Wednesday.

Musona is scheduled to join the camp Tuesday while Tino Kadewere, Admiral Muskwe, David Moyo, and Jordan Zemura this Monday.

However, Zimbabwe’s hopes of playing another friendly match with a full complement of players have been dashed following the cancellation of the second practice match against Cameroon.

Team manager, Wellington Mpandare Sunday revealled the plans had been shelved after the Indomitable Lions proposed that the game be played Monday, instead of Tuesday.

Cameroon also wanted the match played at the Paul Biya Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations.

The opening ceremony will take place Sunday and will be followed by a match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

Mpandare said Zimbabwe were left with no option but to drop the plans for the friendly game.

“That game is no longer possible. Cameroon wanted to use the match venue for their opening game in the tournament, but CAF advised that the venue is not available for use by any team five days before the start of the tournament, in line with the tournament rules,” he said.

“So, the Cameroonians wanted us to play on Monday (today) but we felt it was not ideal to play two games in successive days since we had another game lined up against Sudan (Sunday).”

Zimbabwe are in Group B at the 2021 AFCON tournament along with Malawi, Senegal, and Guinea. The Warriors will open their campaign against Senegal next Monday at Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam. They play Malawi four days later at the same venue.

The team will then shift base to Yaoundé for the final group match against Guinea on January 18 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.