SENIOR SPORTS WRITER
ZIMBABWE Warriors were all smiles as they dribbled past Covid-19 after the delegation for the African Nations Championship (Chan) returned negative results ahead of their departure for Cameroon yesterday.
The Warriors are in Group A together with hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali and kick-start their campaign with a tricky tie against the Indomitable Lions this Saturday.
The Chan finals are expected to run from January 16 to February 7 and the locals are scheduled to land in Yaoundé at 11am today.
Prior to undertaking the mandatory coronavirus tests, Zifa manager of all national teams Wellington Mpandare described the mood in the camp as a combination of excitement and fear.
This was largely due to the fact that at least 15 members of the Chan team had tested positive for Covid-19 on their return from the Christmas break, prompting the whole squad to self-isolate for 10 days pending two more rounds of tests before heading for the East African country.
However, after the dreaded final round of tests, the fear and anxiety turned into joy after the whole delegation tested negative, paving way for the team’s departure yesterday afternoon.
“Everything is alright, everyone tested negative. I have never seen every member of the delegation so excited, this really means a lot to them,” Mpandare told the Daily News yesterday.
“This hurdle has been cleared and we can only hope and look forward to a good tournament given the fact that our camp has been disrupted in a number of ways all of which were beyond our control.
“The team has, however, put everything behind them and are eager to represent the country in these championships with pride and distinction.”
The only downside is the omission of striker Tawanda Nyamandwe of Manica Diamonds who could not get his passport on time.
He has been replaced by Harare City’s Thomas Chideu who was on standby.
“It’s unfortunate that after braving triple rounds of Covid-19 tests, Tawanda has had to stay behind because of passport issues,” added Mpandare.
“He had applied for his passport well in advance but sadly just like every team member he had to isolate for some days and when we finally made it out of isolation, the passport offices were closed because of Covid-19.
“It’s sad for the big striker, sad for the team but be that as it may a decision had to be made and Chideu, who was one of the players on standby, was picked as his replacement.”
Warriors Chan Squad
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders) Simbarashe Chinani (Dynamos) Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars).
Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Tafadzwa Jaravani (CAPS United), Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn), Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Carlos Mavhurume (CAPS United), Pawell Govere (Golden Eagles), Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Talent Chamboko (Manica Diamonds).
Midfielders: Richard Hachiro (CAPS United), Ronald Chitiyo (CAPS United), Gabriel Nyahwa (Bulawayo Chiefs), Wellington Taderera (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Leeroy Mavunga (CAPS United), Tatenda Tavengwa (Harare City), King Nadolo (Dynamos), Denver Mukamba (Ngezi Platinum Stars).
Strikers: Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn),Thomas Chidewu (Harare City), Farawo Matare (Bulawayo Chiefs)