By Eddie Chikamhi
Zimbabwe international, Jordan Zemura, was back in the spotlight on Thursday night after a composed, and impressive, performance against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.
Zemura’s Bournemouth were beaten 1-2 at the Etihad, but their gritty show is being hailed in the game.
The 20-year-old Zemura, and fellow Bournemouth academy graduate, Nigerian Nnamdi Ofoborh, caught the eye again.
They also starred when the Cherries beat Premiership side, Crystal Palace, 11-10 in a penalty shoot-out, in the previous round.
City are the defending Carabao Cup champions and they featured some of the top players in England like Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez in the game.
Kevin de Bruyne and England international Raheem Sterling made second half appearances.
Zemura was thrown into the fray after 27 minutes following the injury to Kelly Lloyd.
The Zimbabwean had to deal with Mahrez and, at the end of the match, Bournemouth posted on their social media platforms a picture of Zemura, alongside that of Ofoborh, with the caption “Did us proud, lads”.
The compliment came from the club’s academy.
“I was very pleased with the performance tonight,’’ said manager Paul Tindall. “I thought the lads executed the tactical game plan very well and were very brave in winning possession.
“I felt we caused Manchester City a few problems.
“Ultimately, disappointed that we’ve gone out of the cup, but overall, very pleased with the performance.
“I think it was testament to how well we were doing in the game that they brought on the likes of De Bruyne and Sterling.
“But I didn’t really feel we were in too much danger. I didn’t really think they created too many clear cut opportunities.
“I felt we were a threat all night long as well.”
Former Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said he could not hold back his excitement as he watched Zemura’s fine show.
“I wasn’t surprised by the way he performed,” said Mpandare yesterday.
“I think this is the right time that he should come back home and take his place in the Zimbabwe national football team.
“I used to follow this boy, when I was the Warriors manager, and I still haven’t stopped.”
Born in London, to Zimbabwean parents, Zemura has since made a commitment to play for the Warriors.
He is one of the overseas players being chased by ZIFA to boost the quality, and competitiveness, of the national team.
He narrowly missed this opportunity, last year, when he was included in the Warriors squad to play the opening games of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
He was dropped by then interim coach, Joey Antipas, at the last minute.
His Zimbabwean passport had expired and could not be renewed on time.
The defender, however, is relishing another opportunity ahead of the resumption of international football in November, when Zimbabwe play back-to-back AFCON qualifiers against Algeria.
Zemura’s rapid rise, and his excellent performances, have all combined to excite both his coach, Tindall, and the legion of Zimbabwean football fans.
The fans invaded social media yesterday to salute the player.
“When we were making noise about the issue of passports, many people were focusing attention on the other guys like Macauley Bonne,” said Mpandare.
“But almost everyone is beginning to talk about Zemura now.
“Despite his young age, I had already concluded he was a brilliant talent and recommended him for the national team.
“It was probably because they had never seen him play before the Manchester City game.
“Now that he has been exposed at the big stage, I am sure people are beginning to appreciate the talent that we have as a country.
“I don’t want to take the credit, for having him commit to play for Zimbabwe.
“It’s a decision that he has since made and it’s now up to the coach, and the technical team, to extend the invitation to him, if they want.
“I believe I played my part in recommending him to the ZIFA technical director, who was also keen on him, which is the reason why he was called up the last time.’’
Mpandare said the passport issue has now been sorted out.
“It’s unfortunate his passport had expired, last time, when efforts were made to call him up,’’ he said.
“Fortunately, with the assistance from the authorities, we managed to get a new one for him.
“He asked me to keep it for him and if, by any chance it’s needed, he can have it any time.
“I am happy for the contributions made by the organisation called Zimbabwe Foreign Legion, which is led by Mistry Chipere.
“These guys have been doing a wonderful job. They were my foot soldiers when I was team manager.
“They do a lot of research on Zimbabwean players abroad and they go out of their way in trying to establish and maintain contacts.’’
Mpandare said there were many promising Zimbabwe players in the Diaspora.
“Together, we had compiled a list of over 48 Zimbabwean players, who are stationed all over the world, and we have been checking on those that are progressing, like Zemura,’’ he said.
“It doesn’t matter that I am no longer the team manager, I haven’t stopped doing so, because of the passion that I also have for football.
“So, if the new coach and manager want him, I can guarantee that all the paperwork is in place.’’ The Herald