By Sports Reporter
IN-FORM South Africa-based Warriors striker Knox Mutizwa has been ruled of Zimbabwe’s decisive African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia, dealing another blow to the national football squad which is already depleted due to injuries and forced withdrawals.
The 27-year-old, who appeared to have recently rediscovered his scoring form after a slow start to the season, did not feature in Golden Arrows’ 1-1 draw against Cape Town City.
Mutizwa picked up a knock in Golden Arrows’ 2-1 midweek win over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in the South African Premier Soccer League and reportedly aggravated the injury in training on Friday
Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare confirmed in an interview on Saturday that the former Highlanders gunman has been ruled out of the Warriors upcoming matches.
“Unfortunately Knox Mutizwa is out of the squad for the upcoming matches against Zambia and Botswana after he suffered an injury during the week. His club only discovered on Friday during a training session that the injury was worse than it initially appeared. He is now scheduled to go for an X-ray but he is definitely out,” Mpandare said in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com on Saturday.
Mutizwa’s unavailability will be a blow for Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić, who is already without France-based striker Tino Kadewere and injured Tanzania-based forward Prince Dube for the decisive games.
Logarusic will now have to choose his strikers from the four remaining forwards including Perfect Chikwende, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Farau Matare and Evans Rusike
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva has also been ruled out of the crucial qualifiers, joining the list of players who have been ruled out of the upcoming matches due to a combination of injuries and Covid-19 travel restrictions in place in some European countries.
Some of the key players who have been ruled out for the two fixtures include Khama Billiat, Marvelous Nakamba, Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Jordan Zemura, Tendayi Darikwa, Brendan Galloway, David Moyo and Admiral Muskwe.
Zimbabwe play Botswana on March 25 away from home before hosting Zambia four days later in the final two Group H fixtures.
Updated Warriors squad
Goalkeepers: Talbert Shumba (Nkana), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF)
Defenders: Kevin Moyo, Gilroy Chimwemwe, Jimmy Dzingai (all Nkana), Alec Mudimu (Ankaraspor), Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Divine Lunga (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Tendai Jirira (Detroit City), Victor Kamhuka (Royal Malaysia Police), Romario Matova (NK Solin), Peter Muduwa (Simba SC), Carlos Mavhurume (Caps United), Shadreck Nyahwa (Bulawayo Chiefs)
Midfielders: Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Ovidy Karuru (Black Leopards), Tafadzwa Rusike (Zesco United), Brian Banda (FC Platinum), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Knowledge Musona (KAS Eupen), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), Tanaka Chinyahara (Red Arrows), Last Jesi (Al Hilal)
Strikers: Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates), Farau Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs), Evans Rusike (SuperSport United)