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Date: 24 April 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Warriors: Mapeza's preferred starting 11, injury scare

[Posted 03 Sep 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
The nation will be watching carefully the performance of Mapeza"s selected 18 on Sunday.

The Warriors' starting eleven for the AFCON 2012 qualifying encounter against Liberia in Monrovia on Sunday is slowly taking shape. A friendly match against the in-form Zimbabwe PSL log leaders Motor action yesterday revealed this, plus an injury scare to a key player.

Motor Action gave the Warriors a good training match yesterday at the Motor Action Sports Club grounds.

In that practise match, Mapeza gave the clearest hint about the team that he will throw into the battle against Liberia in Monrovia on Sunday.

Mapeza used two batches of players in the practise match against the Mighty Bulls. In the first half, the first batch consisted of players who appear the most likely to get the nod into the first 11.

The following played in the first stanza, Washington Arubi, Tafadzwa Rusike, Antipas, Onismor Bhasera, Edward Sadomba, Noel Kaseke, Justice Majabvi, Thomas Sweswe, Method Mwanjali, Musona and Lionel Mtizwa.

From the team that played in the first half, Mapeza played with the full backs who are certain to to fill those slots in defence against Liberia ( Bhasera and Kaseke). In central defence the obvious choices, barring any injuries will be Sweswe and Mwanjali. In midfield, it was interesting to see Mapeza preferring to play two strong-man in midfield in Majabvi and Mtizwa.

The wide midfield attacking roles were given to Denmark-based Antipas and Ajax Cape Town's Rusike. Antipas, who played on the right-side of midfield, got injured in the first half and was replaced by Poland-based Clement Matawu.

Mapeza's strikeforce was made up of Kaizer Chiefs' starlet Musona and Al-Hilal of Sudan's Edward 'Duduza' Sadomba. That was also an intersting combination, given the fact that both players are not renowned goal-getters, but can best function as supporting strikers.

It is quite surprising that Mapeza does not appear to have faith in Zimbabwe's best striker on the evidence of his goal-scoring record, Nyasha Mushekwi. The former CAPS United gunman demonstrated why he is such hot property in Zimbabwe when he scored two goals for his new club Mamelodi Sundowns on his debut on Saturday night.

The Warriors caretaker coach showed the same shocking lack of faith in Mushekwi in the high-profile friendly match against Brazil. Mapeza preferred to field Benjani and Musona upfront in that friendly encounter, a combination which can only excite fans but will prove to have a poor goal-scoring rate because its not made of goal-getters.

Mushekwi was only introduced in the second half with a new batch of players who are all locally-based. The other players who played in the second half are Tafadzwa Dube, Rambanapasi, Eric Mudzingwa, Zephaniah Ngodzo, Qadr Amin, Guthrie Zhokinyu, Benjamin Marere and Willard Katsande.

The Warriors managed to score only 2 goals against Motor Action through Musona in the first half, and Rambanapasi. The Dynamos midfielder is probably the best central midfielder among all midfielders called up by Mapeza. He has the ability to distribute balls to strikers and can chip in with crucial goals when the strikeforce struggles.

The Warriors technical team is expected to announce the final squad of 18 players that will travel to Monrovia on a chartered Air Zimbabwe jet over the weekend. Mapeza has injury worries in the team, with Antipas and Matawu having picked up some knocks during the week's training. Zimbabwe decided to train at home and travel only on the day of the match.

"We are announcing the final 18 tomorrow afternoon. Right now there are a couple of players with knocks especially Quincy and Clemence.

"But we will hear from the medical team before making the final selection," Mapeza told journalists at the end of the practise match at Motor Action Sports Club.

In the event that both Quincy and Matawu, who ironically compete for the right-sided midfield role, fail to pass the late fitness test, Mapeza has options in his squad for that role.

Edward Sadomba started off his career as a midfielder, and is a good option for the role on the right-channel of midfield. Alternatively, Musona could be pushed to the wide midfield role and he will do well there. In that case, Mapeza could have his dream striking combination in Sadomba and Mushekwi. 

Mapeza, who has proved to be on a mission to demonstrate that he is his own man at the helm of the Warriors, has made very interesting, and to some extent controversial decisions with regard to player choices.

The Warriors mentor, in naming his enlarged squad of 36, excluded veteran midfielder Esrom Nyandoro, captain Benjani, Cephas Chimedza, Vusa Nyoni, Joseph Ngwenya, Tapuwa Kapini, Zvenyika Makonese, Takesure Chinyama, Dickson Choto and Energy Murambadoro.

The omission of Nyandoro, Benjani and Murambadoro has created much controversy. Nyandoro, is ironically showing great form. During the Telkom Charity Cup and his club Sundowns' opening league match, Nyandoro showed great form. Even more ironic is the fact that Nyandoro's team mate Mtizwa who competes with him for the holding midfield role at Sundowns received a call ahead of him.

While Mapeza's reason for dropping Benjani was that he was clubless at the time,implying that he lacked match practise, Mapeza interestingly called up Mtizwa and Mwanjali who haven't seen much of action at Sundowns in the past month. They are in the same position in terms of match fitness like Benjani who has been training at Blackburn before he signed.

Controversial or not controversial, what matters now is for the nation to give support to the choices in terms playing staff, that Mapeza has made. The coach probably knows what is needed to achieve a certain balance in the team. He deserves benefit of the doubt even for what appears like glaring errors of omission in his team selection.


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