Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor

FORMER national team and Highlanders captain Thulani Biya Ncube and Mkhokheli Dube have reacted with dismay and anger while questioning the criteria which career Under-17 boys’ coach Tafadzwa Mashiri used to select the national team for the upcoming Cosafa tournament in South Africa.

Dube even described the exclusion of Bulawayo boys as an insult. Mashiri, whose career in the national junior teams spans more than six years although no tangible results have been achieved, called up a bloated squad of 36 players, mostly from academies but in what might be a first since Zimbabwe was readmitted as a member of Fifa in 1980, no Bulawayo boy was deemed good enough by Mashiri. This is despite the fact that for many years Bulawayo has been a shining example on junior football with a fully-fledged junior football league.

Biya, who is the only local player to have captained three sides at the same time when he was given the Under-23 and senior Warriors squad armband while he was also the high riding Bosso skipper, took to Facebook to express his feelings about Mashiri’s selection.

Biya runs one of the top junior teams in Bulawayo, Biya and Friends Academy. “I guess we are not doing enough in Bulawayo development wise not even one player from Bulawayo on the Zimbabwe U17 national team,” wrote Biya before asking a rhetoric question.

“My question is? Are we doing enough as directors or our coaches are not doing enough”?

His post attracted a number of comments including from such figures as Alois Bunjira and Mkhokheli Dube who all expressed shock on the unprecedented development orchestrated by Mashiri.

Dube described it as an insult.

“This is a sorry situation happening to our football, an insult to the Bulawayo Province Junior development. Over the years we have had a sound development program producing quality players that have gone to play in top leagues. Take a look at the recently called Zimbabwean National team, most of the boys called up from the Bulawayo province came up through that same development system which today does not even produce one player in the national Under 17 team. What criteria is being used to select these boys? Do you mean with a province this big with a lot of qualified coaches, the coach couldn’t ask for advice or contact junior coaches to figure out if there are any quality players in that age group? Couldn’t they have tried to have a provisional select from each province and select players from such tournaments?

This is not about the failure of coaches; this is a perfect example of how our football is being ruined. Every kid not only from Bulawayo, deserves a chance to play for their country, but the selection process must be changed and they should have a plan to cast a wider net throughout the country when recruiting these youngsters,” fumed Dube who, like Biya has a vibrant junior team, Zebra Revolution.

Selected squad:

Goalkeepers: Joseph Kaunda (Hwange Academy), Blessed Sibanda (FC Platinum), Ronald Panashe Uraya (PE Academy)

Defenders: Malvern Mareverwa (Aces Youth Academy), Arthur Nyamupfukudza (Aces Youth Academy), Malvern Soko (Aces Youth Academy), Pound Nyasha Brendon (PE Academy), Nigel Musamisa (Majesa Academy), Dylan Tanaka Ndoro (Pamushana High School), Anotida Kingley Chikwati (Pamushana High School), Angelo Tanatswa Sakasasu (Visionaries), Miriraishe Mupindu (Visionaries), Carlos Prosperity Gwaze (PE Academy), Thomas Gutsa (Rusununguko High School), Claivert Tshuma (Twenty 63 Academy) Midfielders: Hermish Charlie (LegendsAcademy), Kudzwayiishe Chikumba (Friendly Academy), Stephen Chatikobo (PE Academy), Leon Takunda Mukonya (Majesa Academy), Perezo Enasio (Pamushana High School), Nyengera Kingsley Tatenda (Pamushana High School), Muzengeza Keith (Visionaries), Tinotenda Mhetura (Friendly Academy), Alfa Chiwashire Chiwashire (Friendly Academy), Junior Happi (Aces Youth Academy), Tapiwa Chakuchichi (BN Academy), Alvin Dube (Twenty 63 Academy), Talent Mwenga (Twenty 63 Academy)

Strikers: Denzel Mapuwa (Legends Academy), Dean Chamutinya (Legends Academy), Luke Musikiri (PE Academy), Frank Lungu (Hwange Academy), Mutazi Tinomuziva (Gweru), Gumbe Dylan (Twenty 63 Academy), Chikwanga Denzel (Twenty 63 Academy), Munakandafa Luther (Chiredzi Academy)