WARRIORS players started trooping into camp yesterday for preparations for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals despite the uncertainty surrounding Zimbabwe’s participation at the continental football showpiece.
National team general manager Wellington Mpandare yesterday said all 10-locally-based players checked in at a hotel and would undergo routine COVID-19 tests ahead of the beginning of training on Sunday.
The tournament kicks off on January 9 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
United States-based Teenage Hadebe, who is on off season, and has been around since last month, also joined camp and as did Ishmael Wadi and his JDR Stars teammate Temptation Chiwunga.
Other stars based in South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania, are expected to arrive today while skipper Knowledge Musona and five European-based players will join the squad in Cameroon.
The five European-based players are Jordan Zemura, Alec Mudimu, Admiral Muskwe, David Moyo and Tino Kadewere.
Several senior players have withdrawn from the squad for various reasons.
Notable absentees from the squad include Marvelous Nakamba and Marshal Munetsi who are out due to injury.
Tendayi Darikwa has excused himself for personal reasons while Khama Billiat has since retired from international football.
From the final 23 that travelled to Egypt for the 2019 Afcon finals, only six have survived.
Coach Norman Mapeza will trim his squad from the provisional 30 men that he named last week down to the final 23 who will travel to Cameroon on December 29 ahead of Zimbabwe’s opening B match against Senegal on January 10.
Zimbabwe’s Group B rivals are Guinea and Malawi, with the two teams that finish top of the group automatically qualifying to the next stage of the competition.
Zimbabwe has failed to progress beyond the group stages in their four previous appearances at the finals.
Zimbabwe’s participation at the Afcon finals hangs in the balance after Fifa on Tuesday threatened to ban the country from international football if the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) fails to reinstate the suspended Zifa board.
The Sports and Recreation Commission on November 16 suspended the Felton Kamambo-led board citing several infringements including misappropriation of public funds, accusations that it refutes.
Fifa has refused to endorse the SRC decision due to lack of evidence, and the world football governing body this week ordered the sports regulator to reinstate Kamambo and his team.
It has been given until January 3 to lift the suspension or the country will be isolated from international football.
Such isolation will see Zimbabwe being barred from participating at the Afcon finals.
Warriors provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Petros Mhari (FC Platinum), Martin Mapisa (FC Zamora, Spain), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars, SA), Taimon Mvula (Dynamos).
Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi, Georgia), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana, Zambia), Jordan Zemura (FC Bournemouth, England), Tapiwa Sibanda (Craneborne Bullets), Godknows Murwira, Frank Mukarati (Dynamos), Gerald Takwara (Venda Football Academy, SA), Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo, USA), Bruce Kangwa (Azam, Tanzania), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport, SA).
Midfielders: Temptation Chiwanga (JDR Stars, SA), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Bill Antonio (Dynamos), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United, Zambia), Never Tigere (Azam, Tanzania), Ishamel Wadi (JDR Stars, SA), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport, SA), Shepherd Mhlanga (Chicken Inn), Panashe Mutimbanyoka (FC Platinum)
Strikers: Admiral Muskwe (Luton Town, England), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows, SA), Prince Dube (Azam, Tanzania), David Moyo (Hamilton Academia, Scotland), Knowledge Musona (Al-Tai, Saud Arabia), Tinotenda Kadewere (Olympique Lyon, France).