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Nkhatha’s dream start

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WARRIORS striker Kingston Nkhatha scored a beauty of a goal as he led his South African football side Kaizer Chiefs to the next round of the MTN8 semifinals, on a weekend of mixed fortunes for Zimbabweans playing abroad.

The 28-year-old thundered in the team’s second goal as the Soweto giants cruised to a 4-0 victory over Mpumalanga Black Aces on Sunday afternoon.

After Reneilwe Letsholonyane had given his side an early lead inside the opening 120 seconds, Nkhatha doubled the lead in emphatic fashion when he chipped up a pass from George Maluleka before smashing in an unstoppable 22-yard volley that rattled the underside of the bar before finding the back of the net.

Nkhatha, however, limped off the pitch towards the half-hour mark after he got to the end of a harsh tackle that appeared to aggravate a previous injury he picked in the Soweto Derby a fortnight ago.

He was one of the two Zimbabweans in the Chiefs line-up alongside defensive linkman Willard Katsande who played the whole match. There was no place for new signing Ovidy Karuru who is currently in Harare sorting his work permit papers while Matthew Rusike did not feature.

Tendai Ndoro finished the match for Aces while new arrival Tinashe Nengomasha lasted for 73 minutes before making way for Dennis Masina.

There was also MTN8 joy for Onismor Bhasera whose Bidvest Wits side qualified to the last four after beating Bloemfontein Celtic.

However, unlike Chiefs who dispatched their opponent comfortably, Wits had to do it the hard way, winning the match 4-3 on penalties after the 120 minutes of play had yielded a goalless result.

Bhasera, the only Zimbabwean who featured in the match, played the full match and converted his penalty during the shoot-out.

There was no such joy for the Zimbabweans at Mamelodi Sundowns whose side were eliminated at the first hurdle by defending champions Platinum Stars following a 2-1 loss.

Of the four Zimbos in the Brazilians books, Khama Billiat, Cuthbert Malajila, Kuda Mahachi and Esrom Nyandoro, none made it into the team.

The MTN8 cup acts as the season opener for the Absa Premiership side which gets underway on Friday. The league is arguably the biggest employer of Zimbabweans players outside the country.

Still in the Absa premiership, former Dynamos defender Partson Jaure is yet to link up with his new teammates at Pretoria University for pre-season as he is still processing his work permit.

Just like Karuru, he is likely to miss his team’s season opener against Polokwane City on Saturday. At Pretoria, he will join up with his fellow Warriors mates Washington Arubi and Denver Mukamba who is on loan at the club.

“Jaure is still in Zimbabwe where he is working on his paperwork before he joins us. We are hopeful of having him here next week.

He will add value to our central defence,” said Pretoria University coach Steve Barker of the highly-rated defender who shone for Zimbabwe at the African Nations Championship earlier this year.

Jaure is expected to fill the void left by Buhle Mkhwanazi, who has departed for Bidvest Wits.

In Europe, Costa Nhamoinesu’s Czech Republic side Sparta Praha have had a 100 percent start to the title defence after winning their first two games of the season which began last week, including a 3-0 win over Vysočina Jihlava on Saturday. Nhamoinesu played both of the matches.

Sparta is also involved in the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages and has reached the third round. They carry a 4-2 lead over Sweden’s Malmo FF going into the return leg tomorrow night with the winner qualifying to the play-offs before the group stages where the big European teams will join in.

While Nhamoinesu is enjoying his “European football”, it’s not looking good for Quincy Antipas in the Europa League whose adventure in Europe’s second most glamorous cup after the UEFA Champions League, could end this week after his side was obliterated 3-0 by Club Brugge in the first leg third round qualifying round. The reverse fixture is on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean born defender Brendan Joel Zibusiso Galloway has signed for Everton on a five-year deal from League One side MK Dons.

The 18-year-old who has been capped for England youth teams, will join up with the Under-21 side at Goodison Park. “It means an awful lot to me coming to such a great club. I’m now looking forward to learning off some of the more senior players – the likes of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka,” Galloway told the official Everton website.

“I’ve been watching them for years now and they’re great professionals, great players – players who have been there and done it. That’s a big thing for me to be able to learn off guys like that.”

Galloway who has been likened to Rio Ferdinand, became the youngest player in MK Dons’ history to feature for the club when, at the age of 15, he made his debut as a second-half substitute in a 6-0 FA Cup victory over Nantwich Town in November 2011.

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