Mhofu mar­vels at Nakamba

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Lang­ton Nyak­wenda

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.

Allin all, Mus on a has so far played 203 league min­utes out of a pos­si­ble 810 for An­der­lecht, who travel to Z ult e-Ware gem for their 10 th 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 three­day camp there.

Kaizer Chiefs star Khama Bil­liat and Not­ting­ham For­est right­back Tendai Darikwa are ex­pected to­mor­row, along with there st 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 As tan a, and for­mer Chelsea man GaelKak uta, who now plays for Span­ish La Liga side Rayo Val­le­cano.

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