The Sunday Mail
MARVELOUS NAKAMBA put on another assured performance for Aston Villa but could not save his side from a late Liverpool surge in an English Premiership tie at Villa Park yesterday.
Villa, who dropped to 16th on the log after the defeat, went ahead in the 21st minute through Egyptian star Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan. lt was 1-0 until half-time.
Nakamba and his teammates then seemed on course to end Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season, which has stretched on for 11 games. But the home fans watched in despair as Nakamba’s Villa saw their lead slipping away in the 87th minute when Liverpool’s left back Andy Robertson ghosted from the blind side to head home a Sadio Mane cross.
It then got worse for the hosts deep into time added on when Senegalese talisman Mane won it for The Reds with a 94th minute header off a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner.
Warriors coach Joey Antipas, who was watching the match, was impressed by Nakamba’s show as the countdown to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers begin.
The Warriors play Botswana at Barbourfields on November 15, before facing Zambia in Lusaka four days later.
“Nakamba is a player any coach would love to have in his team and his high work ethic keeps the midfield ticking. He is a very confident ball player and he does the basics right, plus he is having a stellar season at Villa,” said Antipas.
While he is impressed with the way Nakamba has started life in the EPL Antipas also spoke about striker Knowledge Musona, insisting he is not worried about the former captain’s lack of game time because he believes the Anderlecht forward’s presence in the Warriors dressing room is good enough.
The 29-year-old Musona, who has vowed to fight for his place at Anderlecht after regaining full fitness recently, last played a Belgium First Division match on March 10 when he was still on loan at Lokeren.
Musona only has 14 league appearances in the last 16 months, but Warriors gaffer Antipas is not reading much into those statistics.
“Just his presence is good enough. When Knowledge is here, you know he gives you 100 percent effort,” Antipas told The Sunday Mail Sport yesterday.
“Musona is needed for the Warriors and I don’t doubt his ability because he is a true champion. I know he had some injury woes but he is now fit and raring to go,” said Antipas.
The Warriors begin their 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers with a date against Botswana at Barbourfields on November 15, before playing Zambia in Lusaka four days later.
Antipas wants all the best players for the opening two qualifiers.
The Chicken Inn gaffer is excited by the news that the England based Macauley Bonne and Adam Chicksen could get Zimbabwean passports in time for the match against Botswana.
Bonne has netted five goals in eight league appearances for Championship side Charlton Athletic while Chicksen has made six appearances for League One team Bolton Wanderers.
The duo now has Zimbabwean birth certificates.
Antipas included Douglas Nyaupembe (Stockport County), Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City), Cliff Moyo (Kidderminster Harriers), Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth) and Hamburger SV’s Jonah Fabisch in his provisional squad.
However, Fabisch turned down the call-up due to club commitments.
None of the aforementioned players has featured for the Warriors in any competitive match before. For some of them, it will be their first time to play in the African football jungle.
Antipas is prepared to throw the foreign based players into the deep end.
“Players like Macauley Bonne and Adam Chicksen are doing great for their clubs. Bonne is scoring goals for his side and is a towering striker who is very good at holding up the ball for other players to get involved in and around the box.
“Chicksen is a polished left back, tactically astute and very good on the overlap, he is a modern full-back,” said Antipas.
“The British brigade players have been through top academies, learning the game from a very young age and graduating to the clubs they are playing for. Besides, they are very tactically aware of the needs to play basic football.”
Antipas has also been impressed by Marvelous Nakamba’s storming start at English Premier League side Aston Villa, who played UEFA Champions League kings Liverpool at Villa Park yesterday.
“Nakamba is a player any coach would love to have in his team and his high work ethic keeps the midfield ticking. He is a very confident ball player and he does the basics right, plus he is having a stellar season at Villa.”
Meanwhile, Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare is hopeful Bonne and Chicksen will get their passports before the game against Botswana.
The duo has featured for Zimbabwe before, albeit in friendlies.
“It has not been easy at all, remember Bonne came for the friendlies against Lesotho and Namibia with the hope that his things would be sorted in time for the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
“Chicksen also came for the four-team tournament in Zambia in 2018 and we expected his papers to be processed before the start of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers. lt was all in vain.
“It has been frustrating for me as the manager, knowing the coaches wanted the players but not able to help in availing the players because of the passport issues,” Mpandare said.