Khama Billiat injury worry as Warriors' woes mount
Zimbabwean star Khama Billiat is a major doubt for their trip to Congo this week after aggravating a hamstring injury during Kaizer Chiefs' 1-0 MTN8 Cup defeat to SuperSport on Saturday.
Zimbabwe face Congo in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier set for Brazzaville on Sunday, but their preparations have been blighted by a series of high-profile withdrawals.
Although Billiat jetted into the country on Monday morning alongside nine other South Africa-based players, Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare was not too optimistic of the forward's chances of making the trip to Congo.
"The good thing is that Billiat is now here with the rest of the players based in South Africa," Mupandare told KweséESPN on Monday. "We are relieved that there were no complications in getting him here, unlike in the past. Chiefs have been very cooperative.
"He is carrying a hamstring injury which will be assessed by the medical stuff here, but the chances of him making the trip to Congo look very slim at the moment, from what we have gathered."
Billiat was already carrying the hamstring injury before Saturday's game, and only played after passing a late fitness test.
Zimbabwe are already without Belgium-based midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, forward Tino Kadewere of French Ligue 2 side Le Havre, and experienced defender Costa Nhamoinesu, all of whom are injured.
This has been a devastating development for coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who needed his best men fit and in form for the showdown in Brazzaville. The Warriors currently top Group G ahead of DR Congo on goal-difference after thumping Liberia 3-0 in the opening round.
Among the South Africa-based players who arrived on Monday morning is Billiat's Chiefs teammate Teenage Hadebe, who made his first appearance on Saturday night following his own lengthy injury layoff.
Defenders Marshal Munetsi, Devine Lunga and Eric Chipeta, goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, and forwards Kuda Mahachi, Evans Rusike and Terrence Dzvukamanja were also on the plane from Johannesburg.
Left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai and Tanzania-based midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu arrived on Sunday, while skipper Knowledge Musona was expected later on Monday.
In another blow for the Warriors meanwhile, Mupandare has given up on any prospects of securing passports for the England-based duo of Tendai Darikwa and Adam Chicksen, two Diaspora stars who were expected to add some quality to Zimbabwe's full-back positions.
Efforts to secure passports for the two have been going on for the better part of a year.