Ten players on standby as COVID-19-hit Zimbabwe submits squad for African Nations Championship

Zimbabwe have submitted a larger squad for the upcoming African Nations Championship (CHAN) with 10 players on standby after being hit by an outbreak of coronavirus within the camp.

Nine players and five members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19, delivering a huge blow to Zimbabwe’s preparations for the tournament which is due to start on January 16 in Cameroon.

With nations due to submit their 23-player squads today, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) sent a letter last week to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) asking for an extension to the deadline.

But according to Bulawayo24, the ZIFA has yet to receive a response, forcing them to add an extra 10 names to the squad as doubts reign over the involvement of the players that have contracted coronavirus.

“We are submitting a list of 33 players to CAF,” said Wellington Mpandare, general manager for the Zimbabwean national team.

“We are sending the names of the final 23 players that are in camp as well as the 10 that are on standby.”

The players and staff that tested positive as well as those that have been in close contact remain in isolation while the ZIFA has suspended all training sessions for the Zimbabwe CHAN team.

The organisation described the development as a “painful scenario” and a “huge setback” ahead of CAF’s second-tier tournament.

A further round of coronavirus testing is scheduled to take place on January 10.

Devon Chafa, Nqobizita Masuku, Tymon Mvula, Diro Nyenye, Frank Makarati, Ishmael Wadi, Tichaona Chipunza, Thomas Chideu, Phineas Bamusi and Jeansmith Mutudza have all been placed on standby.

The group are expected to be tested for COVID-19 before joining up with the squad which is due to depart for Cameroon on January 13.

In a statement released today, the ZIFA said the nation’s participation in CHAN had been approved by the Sports and Recreation Commission.

The announcement comes after the Zimbabwean Government suspended all sporting activities in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

“We wish all those tested positive a swift recovery,” the statement read.

“ZIFA appeals to all stakeholders to remain vigilant in the face of a renewed COVID-19 threat.

“Please observe all health and safety guidelines to keep everyone safe.

“We wish our Warriors all the best and we hope they will prevail in Cameroon.”

CHAN was due to be held in April 2020 before being pushed back to this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zimbabwe have been drawn in Group A alongside hosts Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Only players involved in domestic leagues are eligible to take part at the CHAN.

Spectators will be allowed to attend matches at this year’s competition, but will be limited to 25 per cent of their capacity.

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