After making a comeback into the national team setup by public demand, Pilirani Zonda’s fledgling international career has once again been halted through a injury he sustained in Zambia last week.
The Bullets right-back lamented about the back injury he suffered during training a day before the Flames went down 2-0 to the Chipolopolo Boys at the Nkoloma Stadium.
“I hit the ball and then started running towards it. Then, just on my own, I started feeling great pain on my back. I could not play anymore,” he said.
Zonda was treated at the Beit Cure International Hospital where the doctors confirmed he would be out of action for more than two weeks.
Flames team doctor, Levi Mwale, said Zonda partially tore his muscle that runs from the lower part of the back to the thigh.
“At first we thought the bone was affected but it was not. He has to undergo 10 physiotherapy sessions before he can go back to training. He will likely be out until early June,” he said.
Zonda could not hide his frustration with the injury that has ended his dreams of playing at the Cosafa Cup which kicked off on May 17 in South Africa.
“After being recalled to the national team, I was working hard to ensure that I make the cut for the Cosafa squad. It is frustrating to miss out on the tournament in such fashion. I just leave everything in God’s hands,” he said.
Zonda has missed two Big Bullets matches against Dedza Young Soccer and Red Lions since coming back from Zambia.
In his absence, Chikumbutso Kanyenda has played on the right side of Big Bullets’ defence.
Meanwhile, Flames coach Young Chimodzi has named 13 local players in the 20-member Cosafa squad set to leave the country on Thursday.
However, the coach has failed to include key professional players including influential skipper Joseph Kamwendo, forward Atusaye Nyondo, midfielder Robert Ng’ambi and striker Gabadinho Mhango because of various reasons.
Kamwendo misses out because of club commitments as TP Mazembe of DR Congo are still in the Caf Champions League.
Ng’ambi and Mhango miss out because of injuries while Nyondo’s reason is not yet known. Black Leopards’ defender Harry Nyirenda was already ruled out as his club is involved in PSL promotional play-offs.
Despite the absence of the key professionals, Chimodzi has also drafted in midfielder Ernest Tambe of Surestream and Red Lions’ hot property Chikoti Chirwa.
Zimbabwe-based professional Gerald Phiri Jnr of Caps United is set to play his first competitive game for the Flames after the technical panel included him in the squad.
Fam Competitions Officer Gomezgani Zakazaka, who was delegated to finalise logistical requirements for the team in absence of general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda, said the team would fly out Thursday in the morning and is expected to train in South Africa later in the evening.
“The coach has named players that are available and feature in his plans,” he said.
The Flames will play South Africa in a training match on Friday evening in Johannesburg before proceeding to Rustenburg where they will play Mozambique in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
The following is the full squad:
Goalkeepers: Mcdonald Harawa, Charles Swini
Defenders: Limbikani Mzava, Bashir Maunde, Yamikani Fodya, John Lanjesi, Lucky Malata and Francis Mlimbika
Midfielders: Chimango Kayira, Fischer Kondowe, Micuim Mhone, John Banda, Frank Banda, Gerald Phiri jnr, Chikoti Chirwa and Ernest Tambe.
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