By Albert Marufu
England based Zimbabwean coach Philip Zulu has urged authorities in Zimbabwe not to ignore players born and bred in Europe in next month’s back-to-back Under-23 African Cup of Nations football qualifier against Mozambique.
The eight-team 2019 Under-23 African Cup of Nations finals will be played in Egypt with top three teams qualifying for Japan’s 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Among a host of Diaspora-based youngsters believed to have committed themselves to playing for Zimbabwe are Reading’s Andy Rinomhota, Tinashe Chakwana of Burnley, Germany-based Jonah Reinhard Fabisch (Jnr), Matifadza Zata, Admiral Muskwe and Joshua Jeche, who plays for Cambridge United.
“This is what we have been working for all along. We plead with the new ZIFA president (Felton) Kamambo to seriously revisit the technical structures that were put in place by former technical director Nelson Matongorere,” said Zulu.
‘’We funded these projects from our own pockets.
“Effective junior development structures can take us far in every AFCON tournament, Olympics and the World Cup qualification.”
He singled out Charlie White, player agent Ndaba Nyathi and the Mistry Chipere-led Zimbabwe Foreign Legion for special praise. Kundai Benyu, Terry Mupariwa, Farai Mutatu, Shama Bako, Seth Patrick, Martin Zulu, Enrique Ricci Ricardo, Abubakar Moffat and Vashiko Dixon also understood to have expressed their interest in representing Zimbabwe at national level.
England Championship side Nottingham Forest’s defender Tendayi Darikwa and Alec Mudimu of Welsh side Cefn Druids AFC became the first of the British Brigade to retrace their roots and play for their country.
The duo of red-hot Leyton Orient striker Macaulay Bonne and Celtic’s Kundai Benyu have represented Zimbabwe in friendly internationals.
“We had many former players coming together, Kennedy and Louis Chihuri, Shingi Jose, Murah Chambwe and Trymore Mbanje, just to mention a few, and we all had common goals of helping our children,’’ said Zulu.
“Super Eagles Futsal teams became a big hit as some professional clubs came for our players with the likes of Bernard Makwedza, Jimiel Chikukwa, Tavonga Khuleya Gumbochuma, Martin Zulu, Kennedy Chihuri (Junior), Phillip Mundenda, Arnold Ndiweni and Nigel Chambwe joining professional clubs along the way.
“Now this generation of young players has progressed to good levels of professional football in the UK and outside.’’ The Herald.