An enlarged squad was announced yesterday by interim coach Rahman Gumbo, who is also coach of FC Platinum in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League. His squad, considering that it is an enlarged squad contains some good inclusions, glaring omissions as well surprise inclusions.
In our analysis of the squad, we will begin with the surprise inclusions before we look at the glaring omissions, which players we will propose the interim coach should reconsider with the view of adding the players to the current squad. In the earlier article, Gumbo was commended for including certain players who deserve a chance in the Warriors.
Rahman Gumbo must have completely surprised many people by including a talented but inactive Terrence Mandaza. The Platinum Stars player has not seen action at his club in the South African ABSA premiership.
So at this stage, and also by the time the squad assembles on 22 May, Mandaza will not be at the same level of fitness as other players who are active in their squad. Gumbo completely misdirected himself by preferring an inactive player over players who could make a difference to the team.
There was also shock at the fact that Gumbo included veteran keeper Timothy Sibanda from Hwange FC when the former great is living under the shadow of Petros Mhari at club level.
Now, the choice of Sibanda was a real shock. There are surely better keepers in Zimbabwe and abroad who deserve a call to the squad than Sibanda. Mhari is a good example. If in Gumbo's view, Sibanda is a good keeper, then Mhari should be better if he has dislodged him at Hwange.
The calling of Nyasha Mukumbi can potentially raise questions given the fact that the CAPS United defender, though gifted, has not had the best of starts to a season in the heart of the Green Machine's defence.
It is understandable that Gumbo, who doubles as FC Platinum coach might not have had adequate time to assess all Zimbabwean players who play overseas because he was engaged in his club's domestic involvement as well as the CAF Champions League.
One can forgive Gumbo for failing to realise that one of the best strikers, if not the best we have in Europe is Mike Temwanjira who plays for FC Vaslui in Romania's Liga 1. Mbozha is currently the hottest foreign-based Zimbabwean on current form. In the past two games, the former CAPS players has scored four goals.
Temwanjira has many advantages over many of the strikers called up to the Warriors squad, including our talisman Knowledge Musona. Firstly, Temwanjira has been playing in the UEFA competitions, namely Europa League of late, where Vaslui was only knocked out in the group stages. Temwanjira played well this season in Europa league and scored some goals for his club.
Secondly, Temwanjira is in better goal scoring form than any other Zimbabwean playing overseas or in South Africa's ABSA premiership. He sits on 7 goals on the charts in Liga 1, and four of those goals were all scored this month. That speaks volumes about his current form.
Thirdly, Temwanjira has been playing in Europe for the past 9 years, and has acquired a wealth of experience that can only benefit the Warriors in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe has a dangerous heavy reliance on Musona for goals, and the Germany-based striker lacks a good partner upfront. Temwanjira is a great option for Musona's partner upfront.
If anything, the Warriors should not play Musona as a striker because has been played as an attacking midfielder at TSG Hoffenheim, and Zimbabwe should in fact play the young soccer star in that role and leave the striking role to the likes of Takesure Chinyama who could partner Temwanjira upfront.
The Warriors could then have a deadly attacking midfield than has Musona and Ovidy Karuru on either flanks, who will create chances for the deadly Chinyama and Temwanjira.
Esrom Nyandoro is another big omission in Gumbo's enlarged squad. Nyandoro's exclusion could have something to do with the injury sustained during the Nedbank semi-final clash against Free State Stars when Dove Wome deliberately stepped on his problematic knee.
Nyandoro has been one of Mamelodi Sundowns' best players for the past two months and was even voted one of the club's best three players for the month of April/May.
Quincy Antipas has come back to good form in Denmark where he has been scoring goals of late (even though he was rested in SonderjyskE's match on Monday), and he in fact plays more regularly than Archieford Gutu sees action with Kalmar FF in Sweden. Unless Antipas is injured, his exclusion raises eyebrows.
Costa Nhamoninesu has been playing great football in defence at Zaglabie Lubin in Poland's Ekstraklasa. He has been the leading light in Zaglebie's recent surge up the log which saw them move away from relegation to end in 9th place on a 16-team league.
There is no other foreign-based defender who has played better football than Nhamoinesu. Players like Carlington Nyadombo (who has been called, well done to Gumbo) have come close to the form shown by Nhamoinesu in Poland.
There is little question on the quality of the Polish topflight league. Legia Warsaw went as far as the last 16 in the Europa League this season and the quality that is shown by Chinyama in the local league in Zimbabwe is evidence that there is some quality in that league. Nhamoinesu therefore deserves to be called up, and his inclusion is good for Zimbabwe.
It is not clear why Noel Kaseke was left out of the squad, given the fact that the Omonia Nicosia player has had a fairly good season in Cyprus with his club. He too deserves to be called to the squad. His experience and good reading of the game is needed in World Cup qualifiers, and it will be suicidal to solely rely on Tapiwa Khumbuyani alone on the right back position.
While Dickson Choto might have struggled with injuries for much of this season, he is back to full fitness and has appeared in a good number of matches for Legia Warsaw in Poland. Based on his experience alone, it was good to have him in the enlarged squad.
The six players mentioned above will, without doubt make a huge difference to the Warriors squad in the absence of the suspended experienced and more established players in the national team.
Zimbabwe Warriors coaches can not call upon the services of some the country's suspended best players such as Nyasha Mushekwi, Edward Sadomba, Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe, Daniel Veremu, Zhainu "Jimmy" Jambo, Gilbert Mapemba, Cuthbert Malajila, Tafadzwa Rusike, Energy Murambadoro, Ramson Zhuwawo and Lincoln Zvasiya. That sounds like a team of 12 players who can beat any opposition in Africa on their day.