The Sunday Mail
THE last time Enrique Ricardo Junior Ndhlovu put on the green and gold colours of the Zimbabwe national team was back in 2016.
And, it is a time the 20-year-old would rather forget.
After being offloaded by How Mine two days before the commencement of the 2016 Premier League; the AS Trencin right-back went through yet another heartbreak, this time with the Under-20 squad.
The Young Warriors were knocked out by Cameroon- suffering on a three-nil aggregate score- during the last hurdle of the 2016 Under-20 Afcon qualifiers.
“I was 17 years old at the time and suffered back to back heartbreaks all in the space of a few months.
“First it was failing to make the grade at How Mine and then being knocked out of the U-20 Afcon qualifier’s in the second leg of the final qualifying rounds in Cameroon,” he said.
Before his move to AS Trencin, Ndhlovu then spent six months with a Division One side Talen Vision.
But playing for the lower league of Zimbabwean football offered little consolation.
“In 2016, two days before the commencement of the Premier League, I was told that I had been dropped from the How Mine squad and I was no longer part of their plans despite having played most of their pre-season matches,” said the 20-year-old.
“I was hurt but I quickly rose back to my feet and it was round about that time that I moved to Talen Vision were I spent six months before I came here (Slovakia) for trials and succeeded,” he said.
Almost three years have passed, and now the spirited right-back has a chance to atone for his past failures.
Ndhlovu currently finds himself in a better space both personally and professionally; what with plying his trade in Slovakia which, is a huge leap from How Mine or any other local team.
The right back has seen his stock in football rise; playing for AS Trencin’s junior team, even making a few cameo appearances for the club’s first team.
So far he has made 15 appearances for Trencin’s first team during the 2018/19 Slovakia Super Liga season and has since been included in Tonderayi Ndiraya’s 29-men squad for the crunch opening first round Under-20 Afcon qualifier against Mozambique this week.
“It’s a dream of every player to represent their nation, regardless of age-group, and I am very happy to be part of the team,” said Ndhlovu.
“To me qualifying for Egypt is a must and the ultimate target is to book a place at next year’s Olympics.
“I had hoped to be selected and will do my best to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
“We need maximum points to ensure that we book our place in the next round of qualifiers,” said the Slovakia-based defender.
Mozambique will be the first hurdle for the Young Warriors, who they meet in back-back clashes slated for this Friday and March 26.
The foreign players are expected to start trooping into camp tomorrow, joining their local counterparts who have been in camp since last week.