By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S hopes of fielding a competitive side in next week’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers have been dealt a major blow after the France-based star duo of Tino Kadewere and Marshall Munetsi were ruled out for the two encounters against Botswana and Zambia.
The Warriors technical department was still hopeful of convincing Olympique Lyon and Stade de Reims to release Kadewere and Munetsi respectively for the two matches scheduled for March 25 and 29.
The hopes have been dashed after the French professional league (LFP) said on Wednesday that French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs will not release players called up for their national sides if the teams are playing outside the European Union (EU) due to the strict Covid-19 quarantine rules.
FIFA said last month that clubs are not expected to release players if there is a “mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival” in the country where the club is located or the country where the match is taking place.
“In this context, the clubs will not make available for selection the foreign players summoned for matches outside the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March,” the LFP said in a statement.
Clubs are also not expected to release players if there are travel restrictions between the two countries or if specific exemptions have not been granted to players by the local authorities.
The development is a major dent to Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic’s plans as he was banking on the in-form pair’s availability to boost his squad after England-based players pulled out of the squad over similar reasons.
The pair of Munetsi joins the long list of Europe based players set to miss Zimbabwe’s crucial encounters against Botswana and Zambia.
The list of absentees includes Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa of Wigan Athletic, Bournemouth Athletic’s Jordan Zemura, David Moyo of Scottish side Hamilton Academical, Admiral Muskwe (Wycombe Wanderers) and Brendan Galloway (Luton).
The goalkeeping duo of Spain-based Martin Mapisa and Tatenda Mkuruva, who plays for Michigan Stars in the US are also still doubtful for the decisive matches.
The Warriors will face Botswana on March 25 in Francistown before hosting Zambia at the National Sports Stadium in Harare four days later.