By Petros Kausiyo
Former Zimbabwe international George Mbwando has backed the Warriors’ move to infuse a new pool of players plying their trade in European and other foreign leagues and is particularly charmed by the call-up of Bonner SC striker Kelvin “Kelly” Lunga.
Mbwando, speaking from his base in Germany yesterday, hailed Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa and the national team’s hardworking manager Wellington Mpandare for being on the right track in trying to turn around the national team’s fortunes.
The 42-year-old former international, who played professional football for a number of German clubs which include Bonner SC, Vfb Oldenburg, Vfb Lubeck, Alemania Aachen, SSV Jahn Regensburg and FC Ingolstad, reckoned the new players would not only add to the Warriors depth, but bring different dimensions to Chidzambwa’s men.
Mbwando revealed that he had watched big striker Lunga, son of former Dynamos and Zimbabwe forward Max Lunga Makanza, grow through the development structures of German football.
“I think the project to bring most of the Zimbabweans who are outside the country needs to be supported and the country should also afford Mhofu a chance to visit players in Germany, England, Belgium and any other leagues so that he can also assess some of the players who could not make the squad this time around.
“Reinhard Fabisch used to do that and he visited the likes of Henry McKop and Max Lunga at their clubs and it helped him a lot and Mhofu should be given the same kind of support.
“Football now is big business everywhere, it’s also business for the national teams and for clubs and countries to succeed they have to invest. You cannot reap where you did not sow.
“I believe there are plenty Zimbabweans and we have to appreciate that those who are outside are developing faster than those at home for obvious reasons such as access to the right facilities.”
Mbwando spoke highly of Lunga, who turned 24 on May 11, and believes he could be the natural gunslinger who could play a big part in complementing skipper Knowledge Musona as the main provider of goals for the Warriors.
“Kelvin is the reincarnation of Scara (as his father Max was affectionately known). I started watching Kelvin when he was still a very young boy and he went through all the junior development programmes in Germany.
“The major difference between his dad and him is his speed, he is a quicker striker and his father was a bit slow, but still as prolific.
“He is even taller than Max (1.87m) and very strong in the air and he plays anywhere in the offensive positions, but he is more effective as a centre striker.
“I can assure the nation that a player like Kelvin will bring a different and positive dimension.
“These are the kind of players who can also profit a lot from Knowledge Musona’s experience and skills and I think this might be the beginning of a new era for the Warriors,” said Mbwando.
Mbwando said Kelvin Lunga had always wanted to represent his fatherland and paid tribute to Mpandare for making tireless efforts to ensure all the players in Europe, keen on turning out for Zimbabwe, are assisted in that endeavour.
Lunga also admitted that his Warriors call was a “dream come and true” adding he was grateful at having been included in the COSAFA Cup squad.
“It’s a big thing for me. It’s a nice feeling to be called up for the national team,” Kelvin said.
“I think my father was a big deal. I don’t know exactly because I wasn’t born in that time.
“But I have heard stories about that time. I am trying to reach higher goals than my father.”
Mpandare has been racing against time to try and convince the Zimbabwean authorities to process passports for players like Nottingham Forest defender Tendai Darikwa, Macaulley Bonne of Leyton Orient and Bradford City’s Adam Chicksen.
The Warriors have until May 20 to finalise their squad and submit it to the COSAFA secretariat in South Africa. The Herald