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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Will Brito face a selection headache upfront?

Story by Raynald Ngwarati

WITH the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers weeks away, the battle to win the Zimbabwe Men’s National Football team cap is heating up.

The Warriors who will play their home matches in Rwanda, are set to kick off their World Cup Qualifying campaign with a date against Rwanda on the 15th of November before hosting Nigeria four days later in the same country.

Having suffered in a football wilderness for 18 months, competition for the Warriors jersey is brewing from both local and foreign-based players.

With everyone fighting for that nod, Knox Mutizwa and Bill Antonio this Saturday gave early signs of the selection headache that Baltemer Brito will face in the coming days.

Boasting of top-quality strikers who include Tinotenda Kadewere and Prince Dube to mention only a few, Brito and company will have a tough decision to make on whom to put upfront.

Now 30 years old, Warriors striker Knox Mutizwa proved that he can still bang in the goals by adding his tally of goals for Lamontville Golden Arrows.

The Arrows all-time leading scorer bagged a brace as Abafana Be’sthende piled more misery on Kaizer Chiefs by claiming a 2-1 victory over the fading giants in the Dstv Premiership.

Mutizwa took advantage of a mistake by Amakhosi goalkeeper Brandon Petersen to thrust Abafana Bes’thende into the lead with 19 minutes on the clock.

He then completed his brace nine minutes after the break by coolly placing the ball beyond Petersen after some good work on the left flank by Nduduzo Sibiya.

Meanwhile, in Belgium fellow Warriors striker Bill Antonio continued his scoring touch for Jong KV Mechelen on Saturday.

The 21-year-old scored a brace this Saturday to help Jong KV Mechelen cruise to a convincing 4-1 triumph over Belisia Bilzen SV.

Making his tenth start of the season, the brace took Antonio’s tally for the season to five goals after scoring last week in his side’s 5-2 win over Racing Mechelen.

Back home 26-year-old Obriel Chirinda who was inactive this weekend has proved to be a worthy call-up to the national team in the Warriors’ last two assignments proving that local players are not pushovers.

Zimbabwe’s return to international football meant a fierce battle for selection was on the cards and that is proving to be the case.

Two weeks back the Warriors squad who were in camp played the Northern Region Soccer League Select side, which they lost 3-1.

While the coaching staff were testing combinations it emerged that even Division One players are eyeing national team call-ups.

Interestingly about a month ago in England, 17-year-old striker Matthew Takawira committed to play for Zimbabwe at international level.

Takawira who is a Zimbabwean by descent, plays for Luton Town Academy.

As the curtain comes down on the month of October, one can only expect an intense race to win the most prestigious football cap on the land.

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