Soccer Africa

Zimbabwe: Murwira to Lead Warriors At Cosafa

Tadious Manyepo — Sports Reporter

VETERAN CAPS United skipper Godknows Murwira has been handed the responsibility to lead the re-tooled Warriors in the COSAFA Cup football tournament, that gets underway at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), this afternoon.

The Warriors left the country around midday yesterday and were expected to touch down in the bustling South African port city around early evening.

Murwira was a late addition to interim coach Jairos Tapera’s squad.

The Warriors squad had to be altered three times before the travelling party eventually flew out for Zimbabwe’s highly anticipated return to the regional tourney.

The Warriors, the second most successful team in the competition after Zambia, missed out on the 2022 edition because of a FIFA suspension on Zimbabwe from international football.

And when Zimbabwe were re-admitted by FIFA, ZIFA somehow dithered in putting together a team for the 2023 tourney.

Now the Warriors are back and are in the same group with old enemies Zambia, guest nation Kenya and Comoros.

Murwira, a versatile and experienced player, was only drafted in after ZIFA reminded their coaches of the standing arrangement they have with the Premier Soccer League in which both parties agree that the Premiership programme would not be disrupted by matches that fall outside of the FIFA window for international matches.

That arrangement entails the coaches picking not more than two players from each PSL club.

A look at the Warriors side shows that Murwira is the most experienced of the lot and Tapera has handed him the arm-band for the tournament.

The CAPS United defender, speaking shortly before the Warriors left Harare, said he was relishing the opportunity to lead the team and emulate the likes of Ocean Mushure and Ovidy Karuru, who have previously led the senior side to COSAFA success.

“It is a responsibility that I have accepted with honour and I will do my best to lead my country with dignity,” said Murwira.

“I am very happy to be the leader of this great group of players and I think it is a privilege to carry a beautiful nation’s dreams on your shoulders.

“We have a pool of talented players in the squad and what we need to do is play very well, put our bodies on the line, and be the ambassadors to carry the country over the line in this COSAFA tournament.

“I know we have a lot of good leaders in the team as well and it is an honour to be selected to wear the armband for my country.”

He will be deputised by Manica Diamonds defender Farai Banda, while Ngezi Platinum midfielder Richard Hachiro is the second vice-captain.

Murwira, Dynamos vice-captain Emmanuel Jalai, the Highlanders pair of goalkeeper Raphael Pitisi and McKinnon Mushore as well as Washington Mapuwa of GreenFuel were added to the squad on Sunday.

The squad was again altered on Monday with Simba Bhora goalkeeper Simba Chinani coming on to replace Manica Diamonds’ third choice Joseph Kaunda, while Banda came in place of his Gem Boys teammate Tawanda Chisi.

Tapera yesterday said Murwira was the natural choice for the captaincy given his experience.

“There is no doubting Murwira’s leadership qualities. He has seen it all in the trenches and is also captaining one of the biggest teams in the country, CAPS United.

“Murwira has played football at the highest level for more than a decade and this is a relatively young team that needs someone like him,” Tapera said.

Tapera also knows he will need to put in extra work at COSAFA to convince some doubters after the Warriors’ dismal performances in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers early this month.

Using Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, as their home ground, the Warriors lost 2-0 to Lesotho on June 7, before they played second fiddle to South Africa in Bloemfontein, going down 3-1, four days later.

With the squad struggling to show any recognisable structure in their play in both games, Tapera has been under public scrutiny and he should show his acumen in the COSAFA tournament.

The build-up hasn’t been that ideal for Zimbabwe, though, amid allegations of corruption, nepotism and regionalism marring team selection and the subsequent changes that followed.

Still, the team that is expected to do duty in South Africa leaves a lot to be desired as it has some players who have played just three games out of 16 in the Premiership.

Members of the squad based in Europe, including Joey Phuthi, Shane Maroodza, and Marley Tavaziva, were expected to fly directly from their bases to Port Elizabeth.

Zimbabwe open their campaign against The Comoros at 3pm tomorrow.

The Comoros are an unpredictable lot.

The Indian Ocean islanders collected their first-ever win in the COSAFA Cup after victory over Seychelles in the 2009 tournament in Zimbabwe, their second appearance at the regional show-piece.

They performed admirably in that event, also securing a draw against Botswana, but a 3-0 loss to Eswatini meant they bowed out in the first round.