Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
YOUNG Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa is not taking any chances against South Africa and wants to assemble a strong side that includes some of his foreign-based stars whom he flew in for the final African Under-23 Championships qualifier against Zimbabwe’s southern neighbours next week.
The Young Warriors will be at home for the first leg on July 19 and Pasuwa wants them to secure a good result at Rufaro that would make their job easier when they travel for the reverse fixture in South Africa.
But with broke zifa already failing to arrange a longer training camp that should have started on Monday and with some of the local clubs still surprisingly reluctant to release players for the national cause, Pasuwa yesterday made a passionate appeal to the local football family, the corporate world and other well-wishers to assist the association in flying in some of the arsenal he wants to unleash on Amaglug-glug.
Pasuwa particularly wants the trio of Mamelodi Sundowns winger Kuda Mahachi, midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, who plays for Dutch top-flight side Vitesse and left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai, who recently signed for Danish outfit Hobro IK, to be available for the July 19 battle.
Although he could also call on a host of other Under-23 players dotted around Europe and America, Pasuwa is aware of the limited resources at his disposal but argued that South Africa were stronger opponents than Swaziland who they overcame in the previous round, which means that the Young Warriors have to brace for a tougher fight for a place at the Championships in Dakar.
It was also not immediately clear if the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, who are custodians of Team Zimbabwe at the Games will chip in and assist the Young Warriors in their quest to keep their Rio Olympics dream alive.
But, for Pasuwa, he has had to contend with not only working with limited resources but also going for nearly a year without being paid for his services.
The 44-year-old coach has also seen his selection options on the domestic front being hampered by the fact that some of his top local players have been moving around in search of greener pastures on the professional scene.
Pasuwa was optimistic that by the time South Africa arrive in Harare for the showdown on July 17, he would have had his own stars in camp, including those on trials.
Skipper Wisdom Mutasa and his FC Platinum clubmate Walter Musona, Highlanders striker Thomas Chideu and Ronald Pfumbidzai have been regulars in the Young Warriors but their availability for the Amaglug-glug showdown is currently hanging in the balance.
Apart from Pfumbidzai, who has signed for Danish outfit Hobro IK, Mutasa and Musona are still club-hunting in Slovakia and Czech Republic where they have been on trials while Chideu is at South African Premiership side Ajax Cape Town.
Versatile defender Teenage Hadebe could also leave the country as he has been offered a trial stint at Ajax Cape Town.
“Like I said earlier South Africa are more organised and this is going to be a very tough test for us.
“We need to be at our strongest and we cannot afford to go into the game without training.
“There is need to strengthen our team by bringing in some of the players who are outside, players like Mahachi and Nakamba but that now needs everyone to help because there is no money for the players’ air tickets at ZIFA.
“We also now need to make the most of the little time we have to prepare without distractions and hopefully we can get players come in early next week,’’ Pasuwa said.
South Africa Under-23 coach Owen da Gama and his men started camp on Monday in preparation for a clash that is crucial to both teams’ aspirations for a place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The winner of the South Africa against Zimbabwe encounter will qualify for the Eight-Nations qualifying tournament which will serve as a final qualifier for the Rio Olympics.
That eight-nation tournament in Dakar, Senegal, will be played from November 28 to December 12, 2015 and Pasuwa is relishing the opportunity of guiding the Young Warriors to that competition. Pasuwa has already led the Young Warriors to the African Games on Congo Brazzaville and the Confederation of African Football will this morning conduct a draw for both men and women’s finals in Cairo, Egypt.
Rosemary Mugadza’s Mighty Warriors will also be in the draw where hosts Congo and holders Cameroon will be the group seeds.
In the Young Warriors draw, Congo will headline Group A with defending champions Ghana in the pool B pot.
CAF also explained the procedure for the draw.
“Eight teams including hosts Congo, will be drawn in both the Men and Women’s events and the procedure for the draw is explained below;
• Women — Hosts Congo will be seeded in Group A with the coefficient A1 whilst defending champions, Cameroon will be seeded in Group B with the position B1.
“The six remaining teams (Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania) will be put in the same pot (Pot 1). The first team drawn will go to Group A, with the next going to Group B. Pot 2 and 3 would contain the position A2, A3 & A4 and B2, B3 and B4. Once a team a team is picked, there will be another draw to determine its position, A2, B3 etc; to be repeated until the groups are complete.
The top two placed teams from each group will qualify for the semis’’.
• Men — The principle is identical to that of the women’s. Hosts Congo will be A1 and holders, Ghana B1.
The six other teams (Burkina Faso, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe) will be put in the same pot. The first to be picked goes to Group A and the ensuing in Group B. A ball will be picked from either Pot 2 or 3 to determine the positions of each team, thus A2, B2 etc.; until the groups are done.
“The first and second place teams from each group will qualify for the semi-final.
South Africa Under-23 squad:
Goalkeepers: Steven Hoffman (Vasco Da Gama Fc), Ricardo Goss (Golden Arrows), Nkosingiphile Gumede (Golden Arrows)
Defenders: Tshepo Rhikotso (Bloemfontein Celtic), Kwanda Mngonyama (Maritzburg United), Modisha Modjeka (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thabo Makhele (Witbank Spurs), Tebogo Moerane (Bidvest Wits), Zitha Macheke (Kaizer Chiefs), Siyabonga Dube (Golden Arrows), Lukhele Mdluli (Bidvest Wits)
Midfielders: Ayabulela Magqwaka (Ajax Cape Town), Phumlani Ntshangase (Bidvest Wits), Abbubaker Mobara (Ajax Cape Town), Keagan Dolly (Mamelodi Sundowns), Riyaad Norodien (Ajax Cape Town), Thapelo Morena (Bloemfontein Celtic), Abednego Mosiathlaga ( Bidvest Wits)
Strikers: Siphiwe Kambule (African Warriors), Gift Motupa (Orlando Pirates), Menzi Alson Masuku (Orlando Pirates), Siphelele Ntshangase (Black Leopards), Andile Fikizolo (SuperSport United)