“#Zimbabwe” THE Zimbabwe Under-23 Olympic qualifier match against South Africa set for Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday hangs in the balance owing to the xenophobic attacks rocking South Africa.
At least five people have been confirmed dead following the violent attacks on foreign nationals by South Africans in Johannesburg and Pretoria this week.
Media reports from South Africa suggests one of them is a Zimbabwean woman who was killed in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on Monday.
The attacks have garnered international condemnation, and Zambia has since responded by cancelling their scheduled friendly match against South Africa.
The teams were scheduled to play on Saturday in Lusaka.
“Personally, I think this match should have been cancelled for the safety of players. Its a big risk to send players out there but this only a personal opinion,” said coach Tonderai Ndiraya before departing to South Africa.
The South African Football Association has however, assured Zifa that the security of the team is guaranteed.
Ndiraya is also hoping that the situation would have calmed by the time the match kicks off to allow the Zimbabwean community in South Africa to go and support the team.
Ndiraya has included exciting players in the squad including Dynamos sensation Emmanuel Jalayi and his club mate Tawanda Chisi.
Caps United’s Blessing Sarupinda and Highlanders’ Prince Dube also travelled, and so is Leeroy Mavunga, who has previously played for the senior national team.
Chicken Inn’s Obriel Chirinda has been in top form for his club and would be expected to transfer that to the national team.
The foreign based crew include Spanish based duo of goalkeeper Martin Mapisa and Abubakar Moffat, former Dynamos leftback Romario Matova, Gilbert Nyaupembe and Munashe Garan’anga.
Seith Patrick, the tall coloured midfielder, who warmed the hearts of supporters with a polished performance against Mozambique at the National Sports Stadium in the last round has not been called up because he is clubless.
The return leg is set for Barbourfields Stadium on Tuesday.
If Zimbabwe manages to progress past South Africa they would qualify to the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations to be played in Egypt this November.
Eight teams will participate at the biannual tournament with the best three finishers booking their place at the 2020 Olympic Games set for Tokyo, Japan.