By Eddie Chikamhi
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic, could get a huge boost after defender Tendayi Darikwa, moved another step closer to action.
He is battling to end more than a year on the sidelines.
Darikwa was named in Nottingham Forest’s Match Day squad, at the weekend, in a major sign he is now ready to play again.
The 28-year old defender last played his competitive match, in Zimbabwe colours, during the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
He was injured on the eve on the 2019-2020 season and as a result played no part in the whole campaign.
He also missed the Warriors’ opening matches of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, against Zambia and Botswana, towards the end of last year.
Chicken Inn fullback, Ian Nekati, was thrown into the fray by interim coach, Joey Antipas, to fill the gap during Darikwa’s absence.
The Warriors started off slowly, with a goalless home draw against Botswana, before upstaging Zambia 2-1 in their backyard.
They were supposed to play group leaders Algeria, in back-to-back encounters, but the matches were put on hold following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
CAF have announced new dates for November but, with domestic football still in limbo, it means all local players may not be ready to compete at the highest level.
Although ZIFA have begun pushing for the return of football, Loga has since indicated he will not include home-based players for the matches against Algeria.
“I will be looking at those based in Europe and South Africa for selection as they are the ones in shape for the matches since their leagues have resumed and will also be commencing in September,” Logarusic told The Herald recently.
The positive news for the Croatian coach is that most of Zimbabwe’s foreign-based players have been involved with their clubs.
Skipper Knowledge Musona has featured in a couple of games for KAS Eupen in Belgium.
Tino Kadewere has also been seeing action at his French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon while another France-based player, Marshal Munetsi has been playing in both the Ligue 1 and the qualifying rounds of the Europa League with Stade de Reims.
Marvelous Nakamba has featured for Aston Villa and appears to be fighting for his place back in the starting team.
Macauley Bonne, who is yet to make his official bow for Zimbabwe, has also been playing regularly at Charlton Athletic who crashed to a 1-3 home defeat at the hands of Doncaster on Saturday in an English League One match.
The match was one of a selected number of games where the English Football League allowed some fans to attend for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Darikwa, who has repeatedly spoken about his commitment to see Zimbabwe succeed, is yet to feature in a competitive game this year.
He was an unused substitute when Forest lost 0-2 to Cardiff City in their second game of the season on Saturday.
Darikwa was not included in the squad for the English Championship season opener against QPR the previous weekend.
Forest coach, Sabri Lamouche, has been monitoring him closely.
The defender has been out for over a year after he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury on the eve of the previous campaign.
He announced his recovery a few months ago and sat out on the bench in some games, in the remainder of the 2019/20 season.
But, his involvement in the latest outing highlights major progress in the player’s quest to reclaim his berth in the starting XI.
His counterpart, Bonne, who is being chased by a number of clubs in the English Championship, could see his value double inside a month after Queens Park Rangers lodged a second improved bid.
Rangers, and a host of other suitors, had their initial bids rejected by Charlton Athletic.
Bonne’s market value currently stands at £1 million but QPR, and another Championship side, Barnsley, have upped the stakes by tabling £1.5 million bid for the 24-year old forward.
Huddersfield and Swansea are also interested in the forward, who has also been heavily linked with Preston North End throughout the English summer.
Charlton have already rejected a number of bids for Bonne and have stated that he is not for sale.
But, according to talkSPORT, Queens Park Rangers have submitted a fresh bid for the striker.
Bonne has attracted interests after he scored 11 goals in his first season in the second tier.
This was an impressive performance for a player who has jumped ranks all the way up from the National League.
He has scored 56 league goals between Leyton Orient and Charlton over the past three seasons.
It remains to be seen if Charlton will entertain the second bid from QPR.
Last week, team manager Lee Bowyer accused clubs of making “silly” offers for the duo of Bonne and Alfie Doughty.
Bowyer told the South London Press the Zimbabwean forward was not for sale.
“People are taking liberties with their offers. They are silly offers which we wouldn’t entertain.
“The offers come to Steve (Gallen, director of football) and then it goes to the directors. The directors have said they are not for sale. We bought Macauley as a project and so far he is developing well.
“If we hadn’t done a good job with him, there wouldn’t be any interest in him.
“For us as a club, why would we sell Macauley now? Unless it was some crazy offer then we wouldn’t sell Macauley. It would be tough to replace him. So it doesn’t make sense,” said Bowyer. The Herald