It’s not long before the Warriors begin their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign next month.

The national team will face Zambia and Botswana in their first two games of Group H.

And with a new coach – Joey Antipas – who took over in August following the departure of Sunday Chidzambwa, the senior men’s side will be looking for a positive start to the campaign.

Antipas has already overseen three games, back-to-back fixtures against Somalia and a Chan qualifier, first leg encounter against Lesotho.

Much focus, however, was on the Somalia tie in the World Cup qualifiers and the Warriors performed terribly despite progressing through to the next round.

They missed several regular players including Knowledge Musona, Danny Phiri, Marvelous Nakamba, Tinotenda Kadewere, George Chigova, Ovidy Karuru and Tendayi Darikwa. Khama Billiat only featured in the return fixture played in Harare.

The absence of these stars was due to injuries, lack of fitness and an alleged ban by ZIFA on some seniors on account of disciplinary issues.

But after the country’s football governing body made a u-turn on the suspensions and declared the coach was free to select anyone, we might see the return of these regular players to the fold.

Nakamba who was left out in the previous encounters due to fitness issues will be available should he remain injury-free.

The same goes with Musona who recently started training with the Anderlecht first team after recovering from a reported surgery.

However, one player who is likely to miss next month’s games is Darikwa.

The right full-back has been out of action for two months now after sustaining a knee injury on the eve of the 2019/20 English Championship season. He is poised to miss more time on the pitch as he recovers from the knock.

Macauley Bonne’s passport issue is still on and could be forced out of selection again if he doesn’t get the document on time. The 23-year-old England-born striker has two caps for Zimbabwe which came in 2017 in friendly matches and coach Antipas sees him as the perfect replacement for Nyasha Mushekwi who retired international football.

CAPS United midfielder Joel Ngodzo also faces the same predicament as he is yet to get his new passport.

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