HARARE – Ajax Cape Town defender Erick Chipeta is glad to have overcome the disappointment of missing the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and suffering a fractured finger at the same time.
The second half of 2016 was a nightmare for the Zimbabwean defender after he fell out of favour with Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa during the Afcon qualifiers.
Chipeta last represented the Warriors in a 1-1 draw against Swaziland on March 28 in Lobamba.
On that day, the Urban Warriors defender featured at right back and struggled to contain the Sihlangu forwards as he received little cover from midfielder Khama Billiat, who failed to track back.
For the return leg four days later at the National Sports Stadium, both Chipeta and Billiat were relegated to the substitutes bench.
Unfortunately for Chipeta, he was never recalled to the squad for the final two qualifiers against Malawi and Guinea as the Warriors sealed their qualification for the ongoing tournament in Gabon.
Pasuwa firmly shut the door on the former Hwange defender when he also excluded him from the Warriors provisional squad for the tournament.
Chipeta’s woes mounted when he fractured his left little finger during a training session at Ikamva just before Christmas which required surgery.
“It was probably a once-off opportunity to play at such a prestigious tournament that might never come around again for me,” Chipeta told the Daily News.
“However, as a football player I had to respect the coach’s decision and support those guys who were selected to go and represent the country.
“Hopefully, one day I will be back in the national team after I have fully recovered from my injury.”
The former Chippa United defender was also philosophical about his omission from the Warriors squad.
“Sometimes things in football happen for a reason, I think missing out on the Afcon squad was a blessing in disguise,” he said.
“It would have been more painful to miss out on the tournament with injury when I fractured my finger.”
The 26-year-old explained what transpired when he got injured and the aftermath.
“At first it looked like it was no big deal when I landed on the ground with my hand following a diving header at training,” he said.
“The pain was minimal and I approached the physio, who also felt that there was no need to panic.
“However, the following morning my hand had swollen and the pain was unbearable that’s when I went for a scan which then revealed the fracture in the finger.”
The Urban Warriors defender is hopeful he will be back in action by mid February or later on at the end of the month.
“I started training two weeks ago but at the moment I cannot go into full contact because I wear a cast to protect the finger,” he said.
“I had my review last week and the X-ray showed the fracture has healed but I still feel a little stiffness in the finger.”