BY MICHAEL KARIATI
WARRIORS rising star Jordan Zemura, will miss Zimbabwe’s Afcon 2021 opening match against Senegal following confirmation that he is likely to arrive in Cameroon after the first match due to a Covid-19 outbreak at his English Championship club Bournemouth.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare revealed that the 22-year-old England-born sensation will only join camp either on Monday or Tuesday which would be late to face the star-studded Lions of Teranga at the Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
“As you know, Bournemouth was hit hard by Covid-19 and Jordan was caught in the crossfire. We are expecting him on Monday or Tuesday. Right now, he is not available for the Senegal match,” said Mpandare.
Zemura went into isolation last Saturday after the majority of title chasing Bournemouth players tested positive for Covid-19 just before their Championship match against struggling Peterborough which was later called off.
His absence means coach Norman Mapeza will have to reshuffle his team once again as the on-fire Zemura, who can also play in midfield was a certain starter for the Warriors against the 2019 losing Afcon finalists.
Zimbabwe are already without Brendan Galloway, Marvelous Nakamba and Marshall Munetsi, who are injured while Tendayi Darikwa has asked to be excused on personal grounds. Khama Billiat is also unavailable for the continental tournament following his decision to retire from international in November.
Mpandare, however, is confident that the highly rated England-based star would arrive in time for the Warriors’ second game against the Flames of Malawi on January 14.
Zemura has made four appearances for the Warriors since making his debut against African champions Algeria in November 2020 and will be looking to use the Afcon finals as a springboard in his fledgling career.
The defender has been one of the rising stars in the English Championship since impressing on his league debut in August in the Championship’s curtain-raiser, with Scott Parker entrusting him with being his first-choice left-back.
Zemura’s biggest asset is surely his athleticism given the way he bounds up and down the flank.
Meanwhile unlike the chaos that characterised Zimbabwe’s 2019 Afcon campaign in Egypt, morale is reportedly high in the Warriors camp after the players were paid part of their dues by the Sport and Recreation Commission.
“The players do not have any other distractions. They are more focused on their matches after they were paid part of the money they were promised by the SRC and in cash,” said Mpandare.
Apart from Senegal and Malawi, Zimbabwe also have Guinea in Group B whom they play on January 18.