By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Warriors captain Knowledge Musona is expected to headline a strong squad for the national team as they look to defend the COSAFA Cup during the 2018 edition of the competition to be played in Polokwane, South Africa from May 27-June 9.
Team manager Wellington Mupandare revealed that Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa wants the 27-year-old Belgium-based forward to lead the side as he looks to select a mostly overseas-based squad in preparation for the resumption of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in September.
The COSAFA Cup has taken on extra significance for teams this year given the dearth of opportunities to play international football with the FIFA World Cup taking centre-stage.
Said Mupandare; “Obviously, Knowledge being our captain is going to be part of this squad and unless something happens which might change the circumstances‚ he will lead the team in Limpopo and he has already confirmed his availability in the communication that we have had with him.
“The bulk of the squad will be made up of foreign-based players.
“We are looking at using the COSAFA Cup games as an opportunity for our team to gel into the unit that we want it to be by the time we resume our Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.”
Mpandare said the Warriors technical department had a list of 45 Zimbabwean players dotted around the globe from which they were looking at trying some new faces.
These include midfielder Andy Rinemhota, who is on the books of English Championship side Reading, and German-based striker Kelvin Lunga, a son of former Zimbabwe international Max Lunga.
Australian-based goalkeeper Thando Velapi, who plays for Wellington Phoenix, is also among the untested players looking to earn their first Warriors caps.
However, it is Musona who has the biggest profile in the squad that Zimbabwe are planning to call up.
The striker is in his fourth season at Belgian side KV Oostende and has scored eight goals in 24 starts.
His last appearance for Zimbabwe came in June 2017 when he netted a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Liberia.
Defending champions Zimbabwe will enter the COSAFA Cup at the quarterfinal stage when they play the winner of the first round Group B on June 3 at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
That pool contains Angola‚ Botswana‚ Mauritius and Malawi.
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter had opted to select a squad made up mostly of young overseas-based players‚ as well as those that have shown form in the Premier Soccer League this season.
He will announce his final selection of 20 players by the deadline set by COSAFA of May 20 as South Africa prepare to also enter the competition at the quarterfinal stage against the winner of Group A on June 2‚ mostly likely either Madagascar or Mozambique.
South Africa and Zimbabwe will meet in the semifinals of this year’s competition if they advance past their respective first hurdles.