In a surprising turn of events, Zimbabwean national team coach Baltemar Brito has made some last-minute changes to the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Rwanda.
The most notable addition is defender Devine Lunga, while six British-born players who were initially included in the provisional squad have been dropped.
The dropped players include Marley Tavaziva from Brentford, Isaac Mabaya from Liverpool, Leon Chiwome from Wolves, and Tawanda Maswanhise from Leicester. Despite being named in the provisional squad, these players will not be making their Warriors debuts in the matches against Rwanda and Nigeria. The reasons for their exclusion were not explicitly stated by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), but it is believed that the governing body failed to process Zimbabwean passports for the UK-born players.
Additionally, injuries have forced Tendayi Darikwa of Apolon Limassol and Brendon Galloway of Plymouth Argyle to withdraw from the squad. Both players had previously represented the Warriors and possess the necessary documents.
As for Lunga, the Mamelodi Sundowns left-back, his inclusion came as a surprise. He had not played a competitive match for the South African club this season and was omitted from the initial provisional squad. However, Lunga was called up for a national team training camp in Harare last month, and now he has earned his place in the final squad.
The Warriors will be playing their home match against Nigeria in Rwanda due to the unavailability of a Caf-certified stadiums in Zimbabwe. This decision was made to ensure the match can proceed as scheduled.
The revised squad includes notable Europe-based players such as Marshall Munetsi and Marvelous Nakamba, as well as US-based Teenage Hadebe. They are expected to have arrived in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, ahead of the matches against Rwanda and Nigeria.
The first batch of players, consisting of locally-based individuals and Saudi Arabia-based Gerald Takwara, arrived in Kigali on Saturday morning. Tanzania-based striker Prince Dube joined the squad on Sunday.
The Group C matches, which also involve South Africa, Benin, and Lesotho, will determine the team that qualifies directly for the 2026 World Cup finals in America.
Zimbabwean football fans will be eager to see how the revised squad performs in the upcoming qualifiers. With the addition of Lunga and the presence of talented players like Munetsi and Nakamba, the Warriors will be aiming to secure positive results against Rwanda and Nigeria in their quest for World Cup qualification.
The final squad comprises goalkeepers Donovan Bernard, Washington Arubi, and Martin Mapisa. The defensive line features Andrew Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa, Frank Makarati, Teenage Hadebe, Munashe Garan’anga, Jordan Zemura, Tivonge Rushesha, and Divine Lunga. The midfield will be commanded by Brian Banda, Marshall Munetsi, Andy Rinomhota, Marvelous Nakamba, Gerald Takwara, and Tanaka Shandirwa. The forward line includes Obriel Chirinda, Prince Dube, Tino Kadewere, Admiral Muskwe, Walter Musona, and Terrence Dzvukamanja.
The Warriors will face Rwanda tomorrow at the Huye Stadium in Butare before hosting Nigeria at the same venue four days later. Zimbabwean supporters will be eagerly anticipating these matches, hopeful that their national team can secure victories and take a step closer to the World Cup finals.