By Mukudzei Chingwere
Marvelous Nakamba says he now feels at home in the English Premiership where he battles some of the world’s best players.
The Zimbabwe international has settled quicker at Aston Villa, than many had predicted, and has transformed himself into one of the key players at the club.
In the past few weeks he has taken on the superstars of Manchester City and Liverpool and did well in both matches.
Villa were minutes from getting a priceless point against Liverpool before they conceded a last-gasp goal, scored by Sadio Mane, to lose the match 1-2.
There were fears he could struggle to make the grade when he moved to the tough English Premiership.
However, he is now one of the first players the Villa manager, Dean Smith, puts on his team sheet.
Nakamba, the player with the highest profile in the Warriors set-up, gave a brief experience of his life in Birmingham.
He said he was honoured to be playing in the English Premiership.
“The fans are very friendly, they are amazing, even if we walk in the streets, they are very supportive,’’ said Nakamba.
“I am feeling at home and enjoying the experience.
“I am giving everything, it is a new league and I am trying to adjust to the new environment, now I am more mature, I have played somewhere and it is a bit easy to adapt.
“I am 25 now and I think I can handle the pressure. For me it is an honour playing against the best players in the world week-in-week-out.’’
The Villa midfielder is carrying the hopes of an expectant nation ahead of two AFCON qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia.
“Every game is important for me and, playing at home, with the support we always get, we need to do well and give our supporters something to smile about,’’ he said.
“I am very happy to be representing my country and we are training hard to start the qualifiers on a good note.
“We are pushing each other, giving everything so that we get a (positive) result.’’
Meanwhile, Khama Billiat says the return of Knowledge Musona will give the Warriors an added dimension.
“We all know Knowledge is a great player, he has done it before, he has done it over and over again,’’ said Billiat.
“I have played with Knowledge before and I know what kind of a player he is. He is a player I connect with very well and he also connects well with the other players, which makes us a stronger team.
“We need him, he is a great player and I believe his presence will improve the team. He still has a lot to offer to this team.’’
Billiat said this wasn’t about individual glory but to take the team to the 2021 AFCON finals.
“For me, it is the responsibility I have to take when I am called for the national team, just like everybody else,’’ he said.
“It happened that last time I scored the decisive goal, but it can be anyone.
“We do not want to go through what we experienced against Somalia. We want to make sure that everyone watches the game relaxed. We want to secure the result early and preserve the energy for next game.
“We want to win comfortably and enjoy the game. We need to save energy because we have another game next week, so we have to rest with the ball and not chase the game.’’
There has been a heated debate on who should be the captain of the team, but coach Joey Antipas has kept faith inMusona.
Alec Mudimu led the team in the absence of the regular captain.
“The responsibility of being a captain, you have to help carry the nation. It is a tough responsibility,’’ said Mudimu.
“Against Somalia I did not feel as a captain because we have many senior players who were all leaders.
“It was an incredible honour that came many years earlier than I expected. If I am not the captain for the next game it does not matter at all.
“I respect the coach and other players and I am still learning a lot.
“I will still be giving 110 percent for the team and I think we will be ready for the challenge.’’ The Herald