Club Brugge midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and Sparta Prague defender Costa Nhamoinesu have been ruled out of Zimbabwe’s trip to Congo Brazzaville for next month’s 2019 Afcon qualifier due to injury.
The two have played instrumental roles for the Warriors in the past three years and their absence is a big blow for coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
Bloemfontein Celtic left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai has been called up as replacement for Nhamoinesu, while Ngezi Platinum’s Liberty Chakoroma has been roped in to step in for Nakamba.
Former Warriors captain and Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande had been widely expected to come in for Nakamba after declaring he has come out of retirement.
But a disciplinary standoff with Zifa appears to have worked against him.
After sustaining a knee injury while turning out for Belgian champions Club Brugge in May, Nakamba however aggravated his injury earlier this month just after returning to training.
Adding to Chidzambga’s injury woes is Nhamoinesu who limped off Sparta Prague’s Czech Liga 2-2 draw with Pribram seven minutes before the final whistle on Sunday.
Also ruled out of the Congo Brazzaville match is AmaZulu's midfielder Ovidy Karuru who has failed to recover on time from an ankle knock he picked up at the Cosafa Cup in June.
Striker Tino Kadewere of French League 2 side Le Havre had already not been included in the squad by Chidzambwa due to injury.
Chidzambwa will also have to worry about Nottingham Forest full-back Tendayi Darikwa and Adam Chicksen of Bradford City who are struggling to acquire Zimbabwean passports.
“We still have a fight in our hands and we hope that we will get something (Darikwa and Chicksen pasports),” team manager Wellington Mupandare told Goal.
“If we don’t, remember we called in 28 players. We had in mind that we might not get the players. If we have them it would be a bonus because we really need the likes of Tendayi Darikwa.”
Zimbabwe lead Group G after thumping Liberia 3-0 in their opening match in June last year.
The Democratic Republic of Congo complete this group.