Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ defender, Arnold Chaka, and BMC winger, Mandlaenkosi ‘Sukunyetsa’ Sibanda, returned on Thursday after representing Zimbabwe in the 2013 African Nations Cup (AFCON) qualifier against Burundi in Bujumbura.
The Preliminary round first leg match, played in Bunjumbura on Wednesday, saw the Zimbabweans losing 2-1. Burundi’s goals were scored by Mavungo Lody and Valery Nahayo while Knowledge Musona scored for the Warriors. The duo played 90 minutes for their country in their debut under caretaker coach Rahman Gumbo.
Both Chaka and Sibanda were handed their first full international caps after about 90 players were suspended by the Zimbabwean Football Association (ZIFA) on allegations that they were involved in a match-fixing scandal in Asia dubbed ‘Asiagate’ by the Zimbabwean press.
“It was an honour to represent my country and to wear the national colours was unbelievable. I enjoyed the game and I want to believe that we could have won the game if we could have taken our chances,” said Chaka. The no-nonsense Chiefs’ defender partnered experienced Mamelodi Sundowns’ defender Esrom Nyandoro at the heart of the Warriors rearguard.
“He (Nyandoro) is an experienced campaigner and I’ve learnt a lot playing alongside him,” Chaka added.
Chaka, who has been hailed as one of the best central defenders to grace our league in recent times, pointed out that he would like to represent his country more. But he is unsure what is going to happen in the next months as Gumbo was given the fort on an interim basis.
“It (playing for Zimbabwe) will depend on whether the coach who comes will consider some of the players who played in Burundi,” he said.
For his part, Sibanda said, “I never knew that representing your country is that special. Going out there (on the field) the feeling is unexplainable. I was satisfied with my performance and I hope that I’ll get more call-ups in the future,” said Sibanda.
The speedy BMC winger made his debut for his new club yesterday against FC Satmos in Lobatse after joining from ECCO City Greens in January.
The Zimbabwe-Burundi return leg will be played in Harare in June. Meanwhile, Burundi coach Adel Amrouche resigned immediately after the win over Zimbabwe, citing unbearable working conditions.
The Belgian-born coach has been in charge since 2007 but he says the Burundian authorities have not been giving him the support he needs.
“I’m afraid I’ve to resign. I can’t continue to train a team which can’t prepare for games properly,” he said.