Sport

Warriors call-up delights Mapisa…goalie relishes national team debut

SPAIN-BASED Martin Mapisa is excited with the prospect of finally making his senior debut for his country after being named in the bloated Warriors provisional squad for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia.

Mapisa who is in top form for his club Zamora CF in the Spanish third tier league, failed to come for the last two call ups against Algeria and a friendly against Malawi last year because of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Spanish government which entailed two weeks in quarantine upon return for people who would have travelled to areas labelled red zones.

He will have to shrug off a challenge from seasoned campaigner Ariel Sibanda of Highlanders, former Dynamos goalie Tatenda Mukuruva now turning out for Michigan Stars in the USA and Talbert Shumba of Nkana in Zambia formerly of Chapungu in the domestic league.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper who was last here on national duty for the Young Warriors when the U23 played against Mozambique and South Africa in the U23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers is now hoping that there will not be any hindrances this time around.

“I’m really excited to be included in the national team. It means that my efforts and sweat are being recognised by the authorities even though I’m far away from home and it’s a big motivation for me to continue working hard,” Mapisa told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.

“I hope this will go well, I want to come and help my country in my full capacity to make it happen so that we can qualify for the Afcon finals together as a team.

“The inclusion in the national team squad is a big thing to me because it is going to be the first time that I will be in the senior men’s team. If I succeed to come and get the chance to play, I will grab the opportunity with both hands. Whenever it’s your time you have to show what you got and play your normal game.”

The youthful goalkeeper has encouraged young goalkeepers who are looking up to follow in his footsteps to continue working hard and have confidence.

“There is no such words like giving up on your dream, remaining passionate and believing in yourself. Pray, work hard and believe that’s the only thing I can say,” Mapisa added.

Mapisa has settled well at Zamora CF. Since his debut in the first 11, he has managed to keep four clean sheets in seven league matches. His recent performance was on Tuesday when he helped his team to claim the top spot when they won 1-0 against CD Guijuelo.

The two upcoming matches are must-win for head coach Zdravko Logarusic and his squad for Zimbabwe to secure their third consecutive place at the Afcon finals which will be held in Cameroon early next year.

Algeria’s Desert Foxes have already booked a final berth after topping the group with 10 points in Group H. The Warriors are second with five points from four games while Botswana are in third place with four points. Zimbabwe travel to Botswana on March 22 before wrapping up their campaign with a date against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on March 30.

Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare told our sister publication, the Daily News that all local players are expected in camp on March 12 and the foreign-based are expected to jet in on the 22nd.

“The locally-based players will report for camp on March 12 after going through the mandatory Covid-19 tests while the rest will join in on the 21st and 22nd,” said Mpandare.

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