Zimbabwe: Warriors 2022 Afcon Squad

THE Warriors embark on a fresh battle on the continent this Monday when they face Senegal in their first match at the rescheduled 2021 AFCON finals in Cameroon.

Zimbabwe were drawn in Group B along with Senegal, Guinea and Malawi.

The Warriors are playing at the AFCON finals for the fifth time in their history.

They played at the finals for the first time in 2004 in Tunisia. They were back for the next edition in Egypt in 2006, then Gabon 2017 and Egypt in 2019. The Herald on Saturday has prepared a short profile of the 2021 AFCON class:

Coach: Norman Takanyariwa Mapeza

Age: 49 years

AFCON finals: Nil

Players

Goalkeepers

Talbert Tanunurwa Shumba

Club: Free State Stars (South Africa National First Division)

Age: 31

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

Shumba made his senior international debut on 7 June 2019, coming on as a 64th minute substitute for Elvis Chipezeze in a 2-2 draw with Lesotho at the 2019 COSAFA Cup. Zimbabwe won the match 5-4 on penalties, with Shumba denying Tshwarelo Bereng from the spot. He is one of the four goalkeepers that the Zimbabwe coaches have rotated in the last two years.

Petros Mhari

Club: FC Platinum

Age: 32

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

Plays for Zimbabwean champions FC Platinum. He is the captain of the side, which has won the last three domestic championships in Zimbabwe. Mhari has been consistent at club level but has always found it difficult to break into the national team because of the fierce competition.

Martin Mapisa

Club: Zamora CF (Spain PRIMERA DIVISIÓN R.F.E.F. — GRUPO I)

Age: 23

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

One of the players from the famous Aces Youth Soccer Academy that has produced top-notch talents like Khama Billiat and the captain Knowledge Musona. Mapisa is one of the young goalkeepers that are being groomed to take over the Zimbabwe number One jersey in the near future. He has played only one game for Zimbabwe during the AFCON qualifiers.

Defenders:

Jordan Bhekithemba Zemura

Position: Leftback/Midfielder

Club: AFC Bournemouth (English Championship)

Age: 22

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

An exciting addition to the Zimbabwe team. Zemura, who was born in London to Zimbabwean parents, has been making waves in England in his debut season with English Championship side, AFC Bournemouth. The young defender is regarded as the “present and the future” of the ageing Warriors team. Zemura is one of the Zimbabwean players to watch out for at the 2021 AFCON finals.

Teenage Hadebe

Position: Central Defender

Club: Houston Dynamo

Age: 26

AFCON finals Caps: 3

A towering defender, who combines skill and his frame to greater effect. Hadebe was part of the Warriors team at the last two editions of the AFCON finals. He was an unused substitute in the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon. Hadebe played all three matches in the previous edition in Egypt. He had a good debut season in the US Major League Soccer where he was recently named Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year at Houston Dynamo, despite having been at the club for only four months.

Alec Takunda Mudimu

Position: Central Defender

Club: Torpedo Kutaisi (Georgia Premiership)

Age: 26

AFCON finals Caps: 2

Alec Mudimu was born in Zimbabwe and relocated to England with his family at a very young age. He was scouted by ZIFA and he agreed to come back home and represent the country in international football. In his senior career, he has also played for Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol and had a stint in Turkey at Ankaraspor. He is currently in the books of Georgian topflight side Torpedo Kutaisi. Mudimu was part of the Warriors squad at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt but played two games before he picked up an injury.

Takudzwa Gilroy Chimwemwe

Position: Right back

Club: Nkana FC (Zambia Super League)

Age: 29

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

Chimwemwe has mainly been used as cover in the rightback position. The stocky defender however has not disappointed in the few games that he has played for Zimbabwe. He is likely to play a part at the AFCON tournament in Cameroon following the withdrawal of England-based Tendayi Darikwa from the squad.

Onismor Bhasera

Position: Leftback/ Central Defender

Club: SuperSport United (South Africa Premiership)

Age: 36

AFCON finals Caps: 3

The oldest player in Zimbabwe’s squad. He turned 36 years yesterday. Bhasera bounced back in the Warriors squad in March 2021, having spent four years in the sidelines. He has been part of the squad since 2006 and is the second-most capped player in the current squad. He played all three games at the 2017 AFCON in Gabon and his experience is vital. He plays as a left back for SuperSport United in the South African Premier Soccer League. He previously played in the South African Premier Division for Bidvest Wits, Maritzburg United and Kaizer Chiefs, and the Football League for Plymouth Argyle.

Bruce Kangwa

Position: Leftback

Club: Azam (Tanzania Premiership)

Age: 33

AFCON Finals Caps: Nil

The 33-year-old defender was part of the Zimbabwe squad for the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon but did not play a part as the Warriors were knocked out in the group stages. He missed the 2019 edition. But he has enjoyed rebirth at Azam FC in Tanzania where he occasionally gets the captain’s armband.

Godknows Murwira

Position: Rightback

Club: Dynamos (Zimbabwe Premiership)

Age: 28

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

He is a utility player who can play both in midfield and defence. Murwira has been on the fringes of the Zimbabwe national football team for some time. This is the first time that he has been selected for the AFCON tournament.

Gerald Takwara

Position: Defender

Club: Venda Football Academy (South Africa)

Age: 27

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

A solid defender/ midfield enforcer. He has had on and off flirtations in his short international career with the Zimbabwe national team. Takwara has had a topsy-turvy career which took him back and forth between Zimbabwe and South Africa. He has had stints with Tsholotsho FC, FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum in Zimbabwe. In South Africa, he played for Ajax Cape Town, was linked with Chippa United before resurfacing at second tier side, Venda Football Academy.

Peter Muduhwa

Position: Defender

Club: Highlanders (Zimbabwe Premiership)

Age: 28

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

A solid defensive pillar. The defender is one of the local players selected by coach Norman Mapeza to boost options in the problematic central defence. Muduhwa, who also had a brief stint in Tanzania recently, is back at Bulawayo giants, Highlanders where he is a key player. This is his first time to go to the AFCON finals.

Midfielders

Kuda Mahachi

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: SuperSport (South Africa Premiership)

Age: 28

AFCON finals Caps: 4

An experienced winger who has featured for Zimbabwe at the last two AFCON finals. He scored one goal at the AFCON finals when Zimbabwe played a 2-2 draw against Algeria in 2017. But his role in 2019 was limited as he played only the last 10 minutes of Zimbabwe’s 0-4 humiliation by DRC. Mahachi has been struggling with game time of late in South Africa, where he plays for SuperSport United. On his day, Mahachi can be a dangerous weapon.

Thabani Kamusoko

Position: Defensive midfielder

Club: Zesco Utd (Zambia Super League)

Age: 33

AFCON finals Caps: 1

At 33, Kamusoko is one of the oldest players in the Zimbabwe squad. He has been in and out of the team since 2009. He missed the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon but returned for the 2019 edition in Egypt where he featured in one game.

Kelvin Madzongwe

Position: Defensive midfielder

Club: FC Platinum (Zimbabwe Premiership)

Age: 32

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

Kelvin Madzongwe spent the formative years of his career playing for youth teams in Bulawayo before moving to the USA after securing a scholarship at Boston University. Despite tearing his knee ligaments in 2012, he still recovered, after a constructive surgery, to compete at the highest level. The defensive midfielder has enjoyed generous game time in the national team of late, under Norman Mapeza, who is also his club coach at FC Platinum.

Never Tigere

Position: Midfielder

Club: Azam FC (Tanzania Premiership)

Age: 31

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

One of the talented midfielders in the Zimbabwe team. He has played for ZPC Kariba and Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum before moving to Tanzania where he is now one of the key players at ambitious outfit, Azam FC. The midfielder made his national team debut in 2019. This is the first time that he has been selected for the AFCON finals.

Kundai Benyu

Position: Central Midfielder

Club: Vestri (Iceland)

Age: 24

AFCON finals Caps: Nil

The 24-year-old midfielder, who joined Scottish giants Celtic as a mere teenager five years ago, is currently working on reviving his career after enduring frustrating times under Brendan Rodgers, who is now the Leicester City coach. Before joining the Scottish giants, the Zimbabwe international had already played a number of first-team games at a tender age, albeit in the English National League.

Benyu has played professional football in four European countries since then. He has played for his childhood English League One side Ipswich Town reserve team, Helsingborg senior team in Sweden, Celtic in the Scottish Premiership and lately Vestri in Iceland’s second tier.

The midfielder has two international caps for Zimbabwe after featuring in friendly games against Lesotho and Namibia in 2017. He was a late inclusion in the AFCON squad.

Strikers

Tino Philana Kadewere

Position: Centre Forward/Right winger

Club: Olympique Lyon (France Ligue 1)

Age: 25

AFCON finals Caps: 1

Tino Kadewere attracted successive Warriors coaches with his goal-scoring prowess in France during his days at Le Havre, where he won the Ligue 2 Golden Boot. He followed that up with an explosive start to life in his debut Ligue 1 season with Olympique Lyon in 2020. Unfortunately, he seems to have fallen victim to injuries and has been struggling at both club and country of late. Many Warriors fans believe Kadewere owes them big time. He has scored only three goals in 19 outings for Zimbabwe.

Ishmael Wadi

Position: Winger/Centre Forward

Club: JDR Stars (South Africa NFD)

Age: 29

AFCON finals Caps: Nil