The Warriors could be forced to go to the Africa Nations Championship soccer finals in Rwanda next month without skipper Danny Phiri as the midfield hard man is struggling to shake off a nagging ankle injury.
Phiri, a key member of the team, is racing against time to make the Warriors final squad, which should be named in less than two weeks and the strong possibility of his likely absence has left the senior team technical crew fretting.
The Warriors are set to feature at the Chan tournament for a record fourth consecutive time.The tournament, which is exclusively for locally-based players, will take place from January 16 to February 7.
However, there were fresh fears over the fitness of captain Phiri after the seasoned midfielder failed to take part in the afternoon training session at Gateway High School in Harare yesterday.
The Soccer Star of the Year was visibly in pain as he walked with a limp while his teammates were busy with their workouts on the second day of preparations.
The Warriors resumed preparations on Saturday after their camp was dissolved by Zifa last week in the wake of off-field problems that had led to the ill-advised firing of coach Callisto Pasuwa who was reinstated 48 hours later following a huge public outcry.
Pasuwa had given Phiri an exemption when the team initially started camp two weeks ago, saying that he needed some time to recover following a hectic season, in which he led Chicken Inn to the Premiership championship glory.
But what initially was viewed as fatigue has now evolved into a more worrisome injury that could effectively rule out Phiri from making a second successive appearance at the Chan tournament.
Phiri and Caps United’s Hardlifie Zvirekwi are the survivors from the last Chan tournament in Cape Town while Joel Ngodzo could be making his second appearance at the competition if he makes the final squad, having featured at the 2011 tourney in Sudan.
Pasuwa nonetheless cast a huge shadow on Phiri’s availability for the Chan tournament and said the technical crew would now need to get expert advice from the medical staff on whether the Chicken Inn captain should continue in camp or be excused.
Hwange goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya also sat out yesterday’s training session with a shoulder problem and is now set to be sent back home to receive further treatment.
It is however, not just the injuries that are worrying Pasuwa but the drop in fitness levels among his players.
“We’re assessing again the knocks to the boys. We had a break and using the tests that we conducted yesterday (Saturday), it shows that the fitness levels have dropped drastically.
“Some of the boys had to sit out and then from the 32 players that we called, Danny Phiri couldn’t finish off the training session because of his ankle injury. It was swollen and we’ll now have to hear from the doctors if he can continue or we send him back home.
“Then Takabva Mawaya has a recurrent shoulder problem and again we’ll have to send him home and he should probably go for an operation. All the other guys are still training and we’ll keep assessing them,” said Pasuwa.
Source : Chronicle