1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Arubi Bounces Back

ZIMBABWE international goalkeeper, Washington Arubi, headlines a number of players who have bounced back into the Warriors' fold, after enduring a spell on the sidelines, in the first significant move by Zifa as they bury the Asiagate ghost and revive the national team.

The Pretoria University 'keeper, who has been a revelation at his Super Diski club after joining them last year, has been recalled into the national team and is one of a number of players who are making a comeback after getting a reprieve from the Asiagate scandal.

Arubi was given a one-year wholly suspended sentence by the Zifa board, after the Justice Ebrahim Commission had recommended a one-year ban, for his alleged role in the match-fixing scandal.

Arubi was drafted into the Warriors' squad which will play Botswana in an international friendly at Rufaro on Wednesday.

Also making a comeback are the former CAPS United duo of Gilbert Mapemba and Tafadzwa Rusike and the Dynamos duo of 'keeper Artwell Mukandi and defender Ocean Mushure, who were cleared in December, after they paid varying fines for having taken part in the matches.

The inclusion of the players signal a significant shift, in the way Zifa are now dealing with this controversy, as it shows that the association is now ready to embrace those it had cast away as outcasts and, crucially, also get the national game to start moving away from Asiagate.

Interestingly, Arubi returns barely four months after his services would probably have made the difference between the Warriors playing at the 2013 Nations Cup finals or watching the showcase, as they are doing now, from home.

Rahman Gumbo, the coach of the Warriors then, found himself facing a crisis after regular 'keeper and skipper, Tapuwa Kapini, was injured in the first leg of the showdown against Angola, which the Warriors won 3-1.

Rahman had to throw in rookie 'keeper Arial Sibanda, for the decisive second leg in Luanda, and he was beaten twice, in the first 10 minutes of the contest.

Although Sibanda turned a blinding show later, keeping the margin of defeat respectable, there are many who feel Arubi would have made a difference and done a better job.

Among those that have been cleared and had played a role in the Warriors' team before their suspension but have not been called for the Zebras' tie is Mamelodi Sundowns striker, Nyasha Mushekwi, who fired a double for his team in their first tour match against Highlanders on Wednesday.

The Warriors' squad, which was announced yesterday, saw five new players -- Matthew Rusike, Silas Songani, Ocean Mushure, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Nicholas Guyo -- being drafted into the team for the first time.

Kaizer Chiefs striker Rusike, who played for Monomotapa on the domestic scene, is earning his first senior national team call-up, having featured prominently at national youth level.

Hardworking and consistent Dynamos leftback Mushure, who helped his team win the League and Cup double in his first season with the Glamour Boys, has also been rewarded with a call to the senior national team. Warriors' coach, Klaus Dieter Pagels, has also handed highly-rated CAPS United midfielder, Hardlife Zvirekwi, a first national team call up.

The former Gunners player deserves his chance after a blinding performance for the Green Machine, in the second half of the season, where he was the shining light in a team that performed poorly, by their high standards, and helped them reach the semi-finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.

Unheralded Guyo has joined Monomotapa from lower league academy side Maningi, and Harare City's Songani, an attacking midfielder, have also earned their first national team call-ups as the German coach gets down to business.

The team is expected to go into camp on Sunday and will have two days of training before they date the Zebras who announced their squad early this week and have included players such as Bloemfontein Celtic striker Joel Mogorosi.

Pagels, who has already indicated that he would choose players that fit into his philosophy of football, has ignored foreign-based players such as Onismor Bhasera, Vusa Nyoni, Noel Kaseke, Tinashe Nengomasha, Carrington Nyadombo and Arnold Chaka, who were regular faces in the squad under former coach, Gumbo.

Other notable omissions from the team's last assignment in Angola, which saw the Warriors crashing out of the 2013 Nations Cup in heartbreaking fashion after losing on the away goals rule, are Kaizer Chiefs' midfielder, Willard Katsande, Maritzburg striker Cuthbert Malajila and pacy forward, Edward Sadomba, who has moved to the United Arab Emirates.

However, the coach has kept faith in the Europe-based trio of forward Knowledge Musona, who plies his trade with Bundesliga side FC Augsburg, Kalmar FF midfielder Archieford Gutu and Quincy Antipas, who turns out for Denmark side Brondby.

Antipas has always been called up by the previous coaches but rarely used.

However, Pagels strongly believes in the former CAPS United and Motor Action player, whom he feels is playing at the highest level and deserves due recognition.

The coach has retained key players such as Ajax Cape Town midfielder Khama Billiat and Amakhosi defender Lincoln Zvasiya.

There was also a place for Bidvest Wits Football Club midfielder, Denver Mukamba, the best player on the domestic football scene last year, who played cameo roles in the senior national team during the failed campaign for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa.

Dynamos defender, Partson Jaure, has also been retained. The return of veteran 'keeper Arubi also saw Sibanda, used in that game against Angola, losing his place in the team.

The 2011 Soccer Star of the Year, Arubi, will have to battle it out with Dynamos newboy Artwell Mukandi, who has also been cleared from the Asiagate match-fixing scam. Mukandi featured for Monomotapa when they allegedly masqueraded as the national team in Malaysia.

Harare City goalie, Maxwell Nyamupangedengu, also gets a call up into the national team.

SuperSport Utd newboy, Simba Sithole,who was once called into the team two years ago by former coach Norman Mapeza, has been included into the 23-man squad, which was released by manager Sharif Mussa.

Sithole is likely to be released by the Pretoria side to return home for the match.

The forward sealed his SuperSport deal to return to Super Diski this week.

However, it is not clear whether Rodreck Mutuma, who has signed for Bloemfontein Celtic and left for Johannesburg yesterday with his manager Edzai Kasinauyo to finalise personal terms of his deal, including inking a three-and-half-year contract with Siwelele, would be returning for the international friendly.

Yesterday, Mussa, who is also marking his return into the Warriors' dressing room, said they have since written letters of release to the clubs of the players and were expecting all the players to report for camp on Sunday.

The return of Mussa is expected to bring stability to the Warriors after they suffered a number of setbacks, in terms of management, when the experienced manager was out of the system.

"The coach has obviously looked at a squad of 23 players, locally-based, South Africa-based and Europe," said Mussa.

"This team is getting into camp on Sunday evening for preparations on Monday and Tuesday for the match. The team has gone into camp late."

Pagels and his techinical department, which includes assistant coach Lloyd Mutasa and goalkeepers' coach Nkululeko Dlamini, had wanted a week-long training camp with the home-based players.

But after financial difficulties blew away plans to stage a regional tournament last weekend, their plans were thrown into disarray.

Now, Pagels will have to make do with the two days and assess the players with the coach using this tie to prepare for the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt in March, in the North African country.

Zimbabwe are raising a security concern, ahead of the first leg match, following some violence protests which have broken out in Egypt.

Warriors' Squad:

Washington Arubi (Pretoria University), Artwell Mukandi (Dynamos), Maxwell Nyamupangedengu(Harare City), Knowledge Musona(Augusburg), Quincy Antipas (Brondby), Archieford Gutu (Kalmar), Denver Mukamba(Wits University), Gilbert Mapemba(Moroka Swallows), Abbas Amidu(Black Leopards), Tafadzwa Rusike(Ajax Cape Town), Khama Billiart (Ajax Cape Town), Simba Sithole (SuperSport United),Rodreck Mutuma (Bloemfontein Celtic), Mathew Rusike(Kaizer Chiefs), Lincolin Zvasiya(Kaizer Chiefs), Masimba Mambare (Highlanders), Ronald Chitiyo (Monomotapa), Peter Moyo (Highlanders), Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Ocean Mushure (Dynamos), Nicholas Guyo (Monomotapa), Silas Songani (Harare City).

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