The Sunday Mail
HE has never set foot in Arcadia, the Harare suburb that predominantly accommodates mixed race people, but Macauley Bonne craves so much to be in this hood.
The Charlton Athletic striker, whose father Shaun was born in Arcadia before relocating to the United Kingdom, has got a double-pronged mission.
Apart from his desire to feature for Zimbabwe in next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria, the British-born striker also wants to inspire and revive football interest in the Arcadia community in Harare.
ln fact, he intends to play a role in the possible rebirth of Arcadia United.
Arcadia United was once a hub of talent, churning out some of the country’s finest footballers that included the late Hamid Dhana, former goalkeeper Peter Fanwell, current Warriors assistant coach Joey Antipas, Mike Abrahams and George “TNT’’ Rollo.
Arcadia United are now in Division Two and virtually a caricature of the institution that also gave Zimbabwe players such as Herman “Sea Cottage” Hendrickse, Bethal Salis, Reg Payne, Headley Layton and Miguel Lemming.
Former defender Carlos Max, Stewart Gilbert, Majid Dhana (late), Mike Mhlanga, Brendon Noble and Wesley Gilbert also feature among those that passed through the Arcadia conveyor belt.
The 24-year-old Bonne poured his heart out in an interview with The Sunday Mail Sport last week.
He revealed that he is looking forward to finally making his Warriors debut next month.
Zimbabwe face group leaders Algeria in a top of the table 2021Africa Cup Nations qualifier in the North African country on March 23.
Although his primary mission to the country will be to help the Warriors’ attacking line, the plight of Arcadia has not been lost on Bonne’s mind.
“I want to inspire people from Arcadia, that’s why I am coming to help in ensuring that happens.”
Bonne has heard a lot about Arcadia United, a team that featured in the Zimbabwean top-flight league in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and had turned Danny Bismarck Stadium into a fortress.
“I have heard a lot about this team (Arcadia United) which hails from my father’s childhood suburb. I would love to see the team getting back to the top,” Bonne said.
The Charlton Athletic striker has recovered from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since December 30, 2019 and is now focusing on finally making his Afcon bow with Zimbabwe’s Warriors.
The former Leyton Orient striker, who has been likened to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy by the British press, made his debut for the Zimbabwe Under-23 side and scored in a friendly match against a full strength Morocco national team in November 2014.
Bonne then made his full international debut, again in a friendly tie, starring in Zimbabwe’s 0-1 defeat to Lesotho on November 8, 2017.
But he knows that the real deal is in the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers.
“It’s now my time to come and play (for Zimbabwe). The last time we qualified I was gutted not to have been part of the Warriors who played at the 2019 Afcon finals.
“But now everything is fixed and I am going to be ready,” said Bonne, who is now a holder of a Zimbabwean passport.
“The last time I came down there it was really fantastic, the boys were so welcoming. I had difficulties understanding Shona, although some fans ended up calling me Shumba (Lion).
“It’s a name that I like a lot up to now but honestly I don’t know what it means. I like Zimbabwe a lot, my father was born there before the family relocated to England and before I was born.”
This season, Bonne has featured 19 times for English Championship side Charlton Athletic and has scored eight goals.
Between 2017 and 2019, he scored 45 goals in two seasons for England National League side Leyton Orient, before making the move to Charlton Athletic in June last year. The striker is loving his stay at The Addicks.
“It’s been good, I started slowly but when I came into the team against Leeds United (in September 2019) and went on a good run, everything clicked.
“Unfortunately, I tore my hamstring, but I am back at full training now. It’s all clear,” Bonne said.
He believes Zimbabwe now have the pedigree to cause problems in Africa and also reckons that the country can produce more players who can make it into top European leagues.
Marvelous Nakamba, who plays for English Premier League side Aston Villa, is Zimbabwe’s highest profile player.
Defensive linkman Marshal Munetsi turns out for French Ligue 1 side, Reims, while hotshot striker Tino Kadewere was recently signed by Lyon, although he will spend the rest of the season at Ligue 2 side Le Havre.
Jonah Fabisch, son of the late former Warriors coach Reinhard, is now training with high-flying Germany 2 Bundesliga side Hamburger’s first team, and his mother Chawada reassured the nation that the midfielder was still committed to the Warriors.
The 18-year-old Fabisch wants to play for the Warriors in honour of his late father.
“Jonah is doing well, he was recently in Portugal with Hamburger’s senior team. The coach believes in his potential and wants to give him a chance.
“One of his biggest wishes is to play for Zimbabwe. His father’s legacy must be continued,” Chawada said.
It is this emerging talent that is exciting Bonne, who is also relishing the chance of playing alongside the likes of Nakamba and Munetsi.
“There is real talent in the Warriors and I believe more players will attract interest from European teams. It’s a good sign, it shows that Zimbabwe has got talent, man.”
Whether Bonne will feature for Zimbabwe against Algeria now rests with new Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic.
But Bonne sees Logarusic’s appointment as a fresh window of opportunity.
“It’s something different now, it’s a new set-up and I think it’s now time for me to impress him (Logarusic).
“Zimbabwe have a chance (of qualifying for the Afcon finals).
We have good players and I believe we can make it.”
Zimbabwe are second and two points behind Group H leaders Algeria. Botswana have one point while pointless Zambia, who recently appointed the highly rated Serbian coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, anchor the group standings.