The Zebras have been given a boost ahead of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers scheduled for later this month after French football authorities barred all African players from leaving to represent their countries.
The French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 bosses decided on Wednesday to bar African players from the AFCON qualifiers. This follows a move by some English clubs to ban players from travelling to their home countries. The move means the Zebras’ opponents Zimbabwe and Algeria will have to field weak squads for the crucial ties.
The Warriors who meet the Zebras on March 25 will miss key players, Tino Kadewere, and Marvelous Nakamba, alongside Marshall Munetsi who are based in France and England. The Desert Foxes, as Algeria are known, on the other hand have announced that will use only locally based players for their games against the Zebras and Zambia. Algeria have 17 players, in French Ligue 1, third largest contingent only in terms of African representation, after Senegal and Mali who have 28 and 18 respectively.
“The Algeria national team will look very different this upcoming international window with all France-based players unavailable, it will be an opportunity for #TeamDZ (Team Algeria) coach Djamel Belmadi to test out some new players,” reported the Twitter account of the Algerian Football Federation this week.
Algeria has already secured a spot at the AFCON whilst the trio of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe will fight for the remaining spot. The Zebras on the other have had problems of their own and could miss Moroccan-based duo of Tumisang Orebonye and Kabelo Seakanyeng.
The duo faces stringent COVID-19 restrictions in the northern African nation and might miss the two games.
“The official international window starts on March 21, so we are expecting that by then we would have all the players called for camp. But look, we are focused on ability and ourselves, trying to work our best to qualify.
It does not matter if they bring team B, C or D, the fact remains they are national team players and will fight by all to defend their national colours,” Botswana Football Association public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane said on Friday.