Tapera explains selection criteria

Tapera announced a 23-men squad for the two matches and the players were expected to assemble in South Africa

WARRIORS interim coach Jairosi Tapera has explained the reasons why he overlooked Highlanders striker Lynoth Chikuhwa, the Premier Soccer League top goal scorer, for the two 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa.

Tapera last week announced a 23-men squad for the two matches and the players were expected to assemble in South Africa yesterday.

Zimbabwe will first take on Lesotho in a home match at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday before the showdown against Bafana Bafana on June 11.

Tapera said he considered a lot of things when selecting players for national duty.

He said when England-based Macauley Bonne indicated that he would not be available for the next two matches  he opted for Simba Bhora's Taimon Machophe ahead of Chikuhwa because of other aspects of the game, other than goals.

"When Bonnie asked to be excused we had to find a replacement. Many would have thought that we would go for the top goal scorer in the local league, but that's not how we choose players. We select based on how the central striker links up with the rest of the team, ball retention and they help going into the pockets," Tapera said.

He added: "When we select these teams, it is not Tapera's job alone, but the collective effort of the technical team and those we consult. What we need first is to formulate how we want the team to play and choose the profile of the players we need in all the departments. Sometimes selection can be based on the team(s) we are going to play."

Chikuhwa leads the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League scorers chart with seven goals. The Highlanders striker has also been left out from the squad that will do duty in the Cosafa Cup in Durban after the World Cup qualifiers.

The Warriors gaffer admitted pressure, especially given the little time to prepare for two games.

"There is a lot of pressure because the preparatory days are very few and at the same time we have a team which is new to us as the technical team. “It might pose as a challenge, but at the same time it also motivates to do better with these boys. We would like to break the jinx and do something better given an opportunity," Tapera said.

He added that the physical fitness aspect of the players is of paramount importance.

"What will be most important aspect is the physical fitness of the boys as we prepare for the upcoming matches because most of them were already in off-season mode. But obviously it would be important to work on tactics that is how we want them to play and come up with the best formation based on the quality that we have on the ground," he said.

It's Tapera's first job with the senior national team, but he has been Young Warriors' mentor before, making him not so new to the Warriors' technical department.

"I am obviously excited to be given the opportunity to coach the senior nation team. I am not entirely new to the national having coached the Under-20 side and by virtue of that I was part of the National team set up during Ian Gorowa's time and we managed to qualify for the CHAN finals," Tapera said.

The Warriors played two draws against Rwanda and Nigeria and are still with a chance to qualify for the finals to be staged in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Related Topics