SOUTH Africa: PSL duo Marshall Munetsi and Teenage Hadebe are set to play key roles for Zimbabwe in their upcoming international friendly, according to Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) this week announced they had organised a friendly match against South Africa during next month’s international break, and Chidzambwa has welcomed the opportunity.
Speaking to KweséESPN on Tuesday, the coach believes the occasion gives the Warriors technical team the opportunity to start building a strong team ahead of the resumption of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.
As well as Kaizer Chiefs defender Hadebe and Orlando Pirates’ Munetsi, who will collide in the Soweto Derby on Saturday, Chidzambwa also hopes to examine some of the talent emerging within Zimbabwe’s diaspora.
“It’s better to start our preparations now so that when the [AFCON qualifiers] begin, we will be ready,” Chidzambwa said. “We need to use this opportunity to assess players that we don’t really know, like those in diaspora.”
Last November, Zimbabwe invited four diaspora-born players for two international friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia, with right-back Tendai Darikwa, striker Admiral Muskwe and midfielder Kundai Benyu earning their maiden caps.
Ipswich-born Macauley Bonne has also been included in Chidzambwa’s squads in recent international breaks.
Darikwa, in particular, should help solve the Warriors’ right-back woes, but Chidzambwa conceded there is still some work to do in central defence, which is where the impressive Hadebe could play a key role.
“We need to really work on our defence,” he added. “I think this time we are short of maybe quality central defenders.
“For the full-backs, I think we’re fine because we have some talent from the diaspora as well, but there is a problem in central defence.
“We need to work on that area as soon as possible and sort it out before the games begin.”
22-year-old Hadebe has shone since moving to Chiefs, starting 10 of their last 12 matches since moving from Chicken Inn, and impressing with his mature defensive displays.
Hadebe made his competitive debut against Liberia in a 3-0 AFCON qualifying victory as he partnered Patson Jaure in the centre of defence, and was also in the Zimbabwe squad at the Gabon finals last year.
“We know him, he was playing here last season,” Chidzambwa said of the star, “but we need to see him playing for the national team against a good opponent like South Africa, or teams like Senegal and the likes.”
Munetsi, meanwhile, has also produced some fine performances at Pirates after returning to action in the second-half of the campaign.
The 21-year-old had a fruitful spell on loan at Baroka during the 2016/2017 season only to spend the first half of the current campaign in the cold following the last-minute collapse of a proposed loan move to Cape Town City.
Chidzambwa, apparently, has been monitoring Munetsi’s situation.
“They use [Munetsi] in different positions,” he continued. “He plays as a full back, he plays as midfielder and sometimes he plays as central defender.
“So we also need to have a look at many of these players so that we come up with the right combinations.”
With the international futures of veterans such as Willard Katsande, Nyasha Mushekwi, Mathew Rusike and Cuthbert Malajila still uncertain, it’s clear that Zimbabwe need to turn to the next generation and players based outside the ZPSL in order to move forward.
If they pass the tests to come, expect Hadebe and Munetsi to play a big part in the Warriors’ future.