Mhofu marvels at Nakamba

WARRIORS coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa was delighted to watch Marvelous Nakamba make his Uefa Champions League debut last week and believes the star midfielder’s availability will boost Zimbabwe’s African Cup of Nations aspirations.

The 24-year-old Nakamba, who is back from an ankle injury, came on as a 56th minute substitute for Club Brugge who lost 1-3 against Spanish giants Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid last Wednesday.

He immediately joined the exclusive company of Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar and former Warriors skipper Norman Mapeza, the only other Zimbabwean soccer players to have featured in Europe’s premier inter-club competition.

A crucial member of the Zimbabwe men’s national team, Nakamba missed the Warriors’ 1-1 draw away to Congo in Brazzaville last month, but is back in the squad that will face the DRC in a Group G Afcon qualifier at the Stade de Martyrs on Saturday night.

The Warriors will host the DRC three days later at the National Sports Stadium, and Chidzambwa is excited to have Nakamba back in the fold.

“National team players should be playing for their clubs, so it’s a plus for us as Zimbabwe that Marvelous Nakamba featured in a high profile Uefa Champions League game against Atletico Madrid last week.

“. . . Atletico are one of the best teams in Europe and to have our own player playing against them in a tournament of such magnitude can only be a plus for the nation,” said Chidzambwa.

While Nakamba is finding his groove, there are concerns over Knowledge Musona’s match fitness. The Warriors skipper has not featured for Belgian giants Anderlecht in their last four matches. Musona did not make the Match Day squad as his side fell 0-2 at home to Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb in a Europa Cup match last Thursday. The 28-year-old forward was an unused substitute when Anderlecht drew 0-0 against St Truiden in a league match on September 30.

Musona’s last kick of the ball came on September 20 when he was substituted in the 83rd minute as Anderlecht lost 0-1 at Spartak Trnava in a Europa League match.

All in all, Musona has so far played 203 league minutes out of a possible 810 for Anderlecht, who travel to Zulte-Waregem for their 10th match of the 2018/2019 Belgium First Division season this afternoon.

Chidzambwa refused to talk much about Musona’s lack of game time, amid speculation that the Warriors skipper is increasingly growing frustrated by the treatment he is getting at the 34-time Belgian champions.

“As for Musona I can’t really comment much on him because I don’t know why he is not playing. It’s only fair to talk more about the state of our foreign-based players once we start camp next week (this week),” said Chidzambwa.

Musona is expected in Harare alongside Nakamba at noon on Tuesday before joining the rest of the team on the flight to the DRC later that evening.

The Warriors will have a three-day camp there.

Kaizer Chiefs star Khama Billiat and Nottingham Forest right-back Tendai Darikwa are expected tomorrow, along with the rest of the South Africa-based players.

Zimbabwe and the DRC have four points each, but the Warriors lead Group G on goal difference going into the crucial back-to-back fixtures.

The DRC have called in a powerful squad headlined by Africa’s most expensive player Cedric Bakambu, who has scored 14 goals for Chinese Super League side Beijing Gouan.

They also boast of one of the most exciting left-backs in Africa, Arthur Masuaku, a regular for West Ham United.

The Congolese also have Junior Kabananga , who turns out for Kazakhstan side Astana, and former Chelsea man Gael Kakuta, who now plays for Spanish La Liga side Rayo Vallecano.

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